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Lab data management

Managing Lab Data: How To Do It The Right Way

recently updated on 20th Sept 23

Imagine being surrounded by files in a room, desperately searching for a crucial document to save a life. What are the chances that you might fumble? Even if you are using a computer to find the right document, the time constraints ought to make you nervous.  

In the medical field, poor data management can cause misdiagnosis, inappropriate treatment, and compromised patient safety. Poor data management and analysis cause 5% of hospital deaths in the US annually; the impact is even greater in developing nations (Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association).

However, lab data analysis software managing and analyzing large amounts of data can be a daunting task for medical professionals, especially without proper procedures in place. According to a report by Science, the amount of scientific & laboratory data management system being generated is doubling every 1.5 years with technological advancements. Now think about the enormity of this data that is making managing and analyzing this data effectively increasingly challenges in clinical data management.

In this article, we will discuss the impact of the unorganized data produced, the clinical data management challenges faced by researchers & labs in managing and analyzing large amounts of data, and the best practices that researchers & medical professionals can follow to ensure the reliability of their results. We will also share the best tools that are easily adaptable & cost-effective. These subtle changes can ultimately lead to better patient outcomes and enhanced healthcare delivery.

The Impact of Unorganized Data

Lab informatics growth
In the lab industry, the amount of lab data generated has increased tremendously due to technological advancements. According to a report by MarketsandMarkets, the global laboratory informatics market size is expected to reach $4.2 billion by 2025, indicating a growing need for effective lab data management software and analysis. The rise in lab data has created new clinical data management challenges for researchers and medical professionals.

As Dr. Christian Gossens, CEO of Advanced Analytical Technologies, Inc., puts it, “With the explosion of data in the life sciences, it has become more critical than ever to have efficient and effective ways of managing and analyzing lab data. Failure to do so can lead to costly errors and delayed research projects.”

The importance of proper laboratory data management system and analysis cannot be overstated. According to Dr. Jason Paragas, Director of Laboratory Informatics at LabAnswer, “The cost of poor data management is immense. Poor data management impacts research integrity, clinical accuracy, and has financial implications. Data that is not managed properly can be costly to reproduce or can lead to legal and regulatory issues.”

To avoid these costly mistakes, researchers & medical lab professionals must identify the key challenges in clinical data management and adopt the best practices for managing lab data and analyzing. By doing so, researchers can ensure the accuracy and reliability of their research results, as well as improve the speed and efficiency of their lab data management software and analysis processes. 

The Key Challenges In Analyzing Laboratory Data Management

Diagnostics labs have data on patients, tests, reports, finances, and much more. Segregating this data and managing it effectively has its own hurdles that are created due to various factors.

  1. Data Volume: The sheer amount of unorganized data generated can be overwhelming, making it difficult to manage and analyze. It reflects in increased TAT & off-target patient experience.
  2. Data Variety: Managing lab data can come from different sources like patients, referring doctors, organizations, researchers & more. In addition, they come In different formats and with different structures, making it challenging to organize and manage effectively.
  3. Data Velocity: Rapid data generation in medical labs and research organizations pressures professionals to make quick decisions without proper analysis.
  4. Data Quality and Consistency: Without proper data management practices, lab data may contain errors, leading to inaccurate analysis and conclusions.

The consequences of not managing lab data and analyzing correctly can be severe:

  1. Invalid research results: Errors in data analysis can lead to incorrect conclusions and invalid research results, costing time and money.
  2. Loss of credibility and reputation: Inaccurate research damages the researcher’s reputation, the healthcare institution’s credibility, and funding opportunities.

One of the best examples of how these factors can impact medical lab results is ‘the case of Theranos’, a now-defunct blood-testing startup that was accused of widespread fraud and misrepresentation of lab data management.

Theranos claimed a revolutionary blood testing tech for multiple tests with a single drop of blood. Later investigations showed Theranos’ technology didn’t work as advertised, and they used traditional blood testing equipment for most samples.

Furthermore, Theranos had reportedly been falsifying lab results and misrepresenting the accuracy of their tests. Whistleblower complaints and investigations revealed Theranos altered lab results for a misleading appearance. This resulted in inaccurate diagnoses and treatments for patients based on flawed lab results.

The case of Theranos’ illustrates the importance of proper laboratory data management practices in medical labs. Without accurate and consistent data, lab results cannot be relied upon to make important medical decisions. Patients and the healthcare system suffer severe consequences due to inadequate data quality and consistency.

To address such clinical data management challenges, researchers & medical professionals must adopt best practices for lab data management software and analysis. These include proper data organization and storage, ensuring data quality and consistency, and utilizing statistical analysis and visualization tools. 

Best Practices For Laboratory Data Management System

Best practices for lab data management
Managing lab data analysis software is critical for researchers, as it can help improve research outcomes and accelerate scientific discoveries. The following points emphasize adopting best practices for managing and analyzing lab data, supported by relevant statistics and industry standpoints.

  • Collecting Lab Data

  1. Consistency and Structure: Consistent and structured data collection ensures meaningful insights for researchers.
  2. Data Standards: Standardizing data elements and creating data dictionaries can help researchers maintain consistency across experiments and datasets. This allows for easier collaboration and sharing of data within and across research teams.
  3. Industry Standpoint: A study by The Royal Society found that a lack of standardization in data collection across scientific research hinders scientific progress. The study highlights the need for standardized data formats and protocols to enable data reuse and sharing.
  • Organizing and Storing Lab Data:

  1. Centralized Storage: Storing lab data in a centralized location allows for easier management, sharing, and collaboration across research teams. This can also reduce the risk of data loss or theft.
  2. Data Management Plan: Creating a data management plan that outlines data security, confidentiality, and integrity measures can help ensure that data is protected and accessible only to authorized personnel.
  3. Industry Standpoint: A survey by Databricks found that 91% of data professionals believe that data management is critical to business success. The survey also found that centralized data storage and access controls were among the most important data management practices.
  • Analyzing Lab Data:

  1. Well-Defined Analysis Plan: Following a well-defined analysis plan that includes statistical analysis and data visualization can help researchers make accurate and meaningful conclusions from their data.
  2. Statistical Analysis: Choosing the appropriate statistical analysis methods based on the type of data, research question, and hypothesis is crucial for obtaining reliable and valid results.
  3. Industry Standpoint: A report by Research and Markets suggests that the global market for statistical analysis software is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.7% from 2021 to 2028. The report highlights the increasing demand for statistical analysis tools in various industries, including healthcare, finance, and manufacturing.

Best Tools For Improving Lab Data Management 

To manage and analyze large amounts of lab data, researchers need to use specialized software tools that provide them with a platform to store, organize, analyze, and visualize data. Here are some examples of software tools that researchers can use:

  • Electronic Lab Notebooks (ELN):

Electronic lab notebooks are software tools designed to help researchers & lab administrators manage and store lab data electronically. They provide a platform for data entry, metadata tagging, and easy sharing and collaboration with other researchers. ELNs also offer a powerful search functionality that allows users to retrieve data quickly and easily.

Industry Standpoint:

According to a report by MarketsandMarkets, the global electronic lab notebook market is expected to reach $784 million by 2023, growing at a CAGR of 10.2% from 2018 to 2023. The report cites the increasing adoption of ELNs in various industries, including pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, and academia, as a major driving force behind this growth.

  • Statistical Analysis Software:

Statistical analysis software, such as R, SAS, and SPSS, offers researchers a wide range of statistical analysis methods that can be used for different types of lab data. These tools help researchers to perform complex statistical analyses, such as linear and nonlinear regression, time-series analysis, and multivariate analysis.

Industry Standpoint:

The statistical software market is expected to reach $1.8 billion by 2023, growing at a CAGR of 7.8% from 2018 to 2023, according to a report by Markets and Markets. The report attributes the growth to the rising demand for data-driven decision-making in healthcare, finance, and manufacturing.

  • Data Visualization Software:

Data visualization software (e.g., Tableau, Excel, Python’s matplotlib library) simplifies lab data visualization for researchers, aiding interpretation and understanding. These tools identify data patterns and trends, providing insights for informed decision-making.

Industry Standpoint:

The global data visualization market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.2% from 2021 to 2028, according to a report by Grand View Research. The report cites the increasing demand for real-time data visualization across various industries, including healthcare, media, and finance, as a major driving force behind this growth.

In addition to Electronic Lab Notebooks (ELNs), Statistical Analysis Software, and Data Visualization Software, there is one more effective tool that can help manage and analyze large amounts of lab data: Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS).

  • Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS):

LIMS are software applications designed to manage laboratory information, including data management, sample tracking, workflow management, and quality control. LIMS is an essential tool for labs dealing with a high volume of data and samples as it provides a centralized location to manage and store data. Some benefits of LIMS include:

  1. Improved data quality and consistency: LIMS enforces data quality standards and guidelines, which ensures data consistency and accuracy.
  2. Efficient sample tracking and workflow management: LIMS automates sample tracking and workflow management, which reduces manual errors and streamlines lab operations.
  3. Enhanced compliance and regulatory requirements: LIMS ensures compliance with regulatory standards and requirements, such as ISO 17025, 21 CFR Part 11, and GxP.

Check a case study 


Effectively managing and analyzing large amounts of challenges in clinical data management in labs. However, implementing the best practices outlined in this article can help ensure the accuracy and quality of the data. By collecting data in a consistent and structured format, researchers can improve data quality and consistency. In addition, utilizing centralized data management plans can help maintain data security and confidentiality, as well as establish backup and recovery procedures.

Adopting well-defined analysis plans and utilizing statistical analysis and data visualization software can further streamline the process of analyzing lab data management software. By employing these best practices, researchers can confidently generate reliable and valid research results that add to the growing body of scientific knowledge.

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