5 compelling reasons why automation is more than the much-advertised reduced need for manpower and time.
Laboratory services is not just about sample collection, samples processing and results reporting; sample tracking and management is as big a responsibility. Intelligent sample management is not just the present but also the future of laboratories for effective functioning.
While you will find a lot of information on how Laboratory Information System (LIS) is useful in achieving different sets of tasks that it was designed to perform, we would like to offer you some key insights on sample management.In this post, we take you through 5 ways that LIS can help in sample tracking and management especially in a multi-center scenario.
1. Barcode Generation – The Magic Bricks to Efficient Sampling
With LIS implemented at your laboratory, every collected sample can be allotted a barcode right at the point of collection, which is unique to that sample. A barcode scanner at any point is all that is needed to track the sample. So, even when the sample is collected at one center and transported to another center at a different location for processing and further transported to another place for storage, the barcode on the vacationers will be the tracker. Every scanner that scans the barcode on a particular sample will save its location under that unique barcode, making the barcode the digital footprint of that sample and thereby the patient’s too.
The pre-printed barcodes can be assigned to different tests for the same patient and thereby store all pathological information about that patient under a single visit ID. This will aid in easy information retrieval as well as reports collations and correlations.
2. Reduction In Lost or Mislabeled Samples
Sample management includes managing samples right from the point of sample collection till samples are discarded. Since the barcode – the unique ID of the sample is auto-generated and not hand written,the chances of wrong labeling are highly unlikely. By attaching a printer to the computer terminal at the sample collection point, all the codes can be printed on stickers, which can be stuck to the vacationers right at the point of collection. This will in effect erase any possibility of mislabeled samples.
Scanning these vacationers at every point of entry and exit till storage or incineration happens, means chances of a sample being lost are negligible. This means better reports on sample tracking and archival resulting in better reputation and more patient returns.
3. Easy Retrieval From The Archives
Once the sample’s initial processing is done and the initial reports are dispensed, the sample goes into cold storage till further research or reporting is called for. This is where, traditional manual systems becomes cumbersome to retrieve. Most laboratory employees complain that retrieving a sample is the single most time taking and cumbersome task they perform in their daily routines. LIS practically erases this time wastage. With barcodes and unique IDs stored on the server along with the location, owing to scanning of the codes at every entry and exit, the exact location of the sample is stored on the server up to the last details including the rack number. With the power of LIS, this can be accessed from any center irrespective of whether the sample is in that center or elsewhere.
4. Easy Diagnostic, Clinical & Research Data Access From Anywhere
LIS enables storing of not just location of the sample but also the related diagnostic, clinical and research data about the sample under one unique code. This data is stored on the LIS server under the assigned unique code. LIS makes it extremely simple to not only retrieve the sample physically but also retrieve information about that sample to collate and/or correlate for clinical or research purposes. And LIS also makes the information accessible from any center irrespective of where it is located.
5. Helps In Efficient Use Of Storage Space
LIS not just helps in effectively labeling, categorizing, storing and retrieving the samples but also helps in utilizing the cold storage area better. When all these processes are completed through LIS,the software also gives an alert to inform that the sample is no longer fit to be processed. It is an alert for the diagnostic lab employees to clear out these samples from the freezer and to make space for the new ones. This is an extremely useful feature since it makes the lab operations cost effective and helps avoid investment on purchasing additional freezers when there is potential to optimize the existing storage space while helping you prevent processing un-stable samples.
LIS can be extremely effective, covering up for gaps in the manual system, as far as sample management is concerned, but users can come up with many more ways in which the software can be used even more efficiently.