What is a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) Software?

What is LIMS Software

Octorber 21, 2020

A LIMS system is a software-based solution which helps in hassle-free data management and workflow automation in various laboratories. It allows the effective management of samples and associated data. A LIMS streamlines workflows, tests, procedures, and assures accurate process control. A LIMS also helps in quality management and enables laboratories to follow regulatory guidelines and best practices. Furthermore, functions such as audit trail and automated tracking of laboratory activities over time are some of the key reasons why people use a LIMS and opt to go paperless.

What does a LIMS Software do?

The journey of a sample involves sample accessioning, processing, storage, testing, and disposal. A LIMS facilitates sample accessioning as soon as a sample enters a laboratory. It generates a barcode once the initial sample data is entered in a LIMS so that it can be simply scanned again by different staff members as and when required. Each user can scan the same code to ensure that the data is accurate and the process is on track. A LIMS can also schedule tasks, track tests, manage test results, and generate test reports or Certificates of Analysis (CoA). As a sample makes its way through the testing process, all the information is stored safely, securely, and in a common easy-to-access repository.

Steps involved in the functioning of a LIMS software
Figure 1. Steps involved in the functioning of a LIMS software. (Figure Courtesy CloudLIMS)

What Benefits Does a LIMS Software Offer?

1. A LIMS offers a lot of benefits in terms of laboratory data management, such as managing sample data, scheduling staff training, managing documents, such as Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). A LIMS also helps in maintaining quality control test results to support the validity of the actual test results.

2. It eliminates transcription errors through instrument integration. Instrument integration enhances laboratory efficiency and saves a lot of time by facilitating the automatic bi-directional transfer of data between analytical instruments and a LIMS, eliminating manual intervention. Instrument integration is a key factor in enhancing productivity and maintaining data integrity in a laboratory environment.

3. A configurable LIMS helps to mirror laboratory workflows, assign tasks to competent staff, distribute the workload among staff members, track the progress of tasks, and monitor the turnaround time.

4. Apart from all the other benefits, the topmost benefit that a LIMS offers is that it supports regulatory compliance including HIPAA, 21 CFR Part 11, ISO/IEC 17025:2017, ISO 15189, EU GDPR, ISO 20387, etc.

What is the Role of a LIMS Software in a Laboratory?

1. Through sample management, a user can efficiently track samples and allocate storage locations to samples.

2. A LIMS facilitates laboratories to manage the tests conducted on a batch of samples and their results, track approval or validation of results, generate reports, and share them with customers.

3. A LIMS helps protect confidential data through secure and restricted access to the data. Easy data backup is another important benefit.

4. An authorized user can easily and quickly generate various reports using the data stored in a LIMS.

5. A LIMS system streamlines the billing process by generating invoices and integrating with third-party billing and insurance software.

6. Laboratory tasks must be performed by trained and competent staff which is important for generating accurate and reliable results. A LIMS helps manage staff training and their competency. During audits, laboratories may need to produce records of staff training.

Advantages of a LIMS system Figure 2. Advantages of a LIMS system

A LIMS manages precise records of each sample and stores it securely, thus preventing loss of data as it is transferred between various departments. A LIMS system can generate automatic reorder alerts in case of stock depletion and manages stock supplies and reagents. It prevents any delays resulting from the unavailability of stocks. A LIMS alerts laboratory managers when any equipment is due for calibration or maintenance.

Who Uses a LIMS Software?

Laboratory technicians, managers, or directors from various industries, such as Clinical Research & Diagnostics, Biobanks, Food & Beverage, Cannabis, Oil & Gas, and Agriculture use a LIMS to manage their laboratory data.

Conclusion

Laboratories generate large amounts of valuable data daily. It becomes essential for them to track samples and associated data and use that to generate Certificates of Analysis (CoA), management reports, and other information-based insights. A LIMS contributes to the smooth management of laboratory workflows and efficient organization of the collected data. The overall operational efficiency of a laboratory can be improved by implementing a laboratory information management system (LIMS). It saves time otherwise spent on manual data logging and maintenance and offers an efficient data management solution. This prevents human errors and gives a more accurate information system to support multiple decisions. An audit trail automatically records laboratory activities that can be produced before regulatory authorities whenever required. Furthermore, a LIMS is most useful when dealing with voluminous data that requires batch analysis and repetitive daily operations. Furthermore, it also helps laboratories in maintaining regulatory, safety, and privacy standards.


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