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which is best - Offline vs Online Lims

Offline Vs Online Medical Lab Software Which One Is For You

We are all aware of what calamities and lockdowns can do to our business. And that’s exactly when businesses had to decide which side to choose: offline vs online LIMS? More importantly, in healthcare, why wait for any disaster to occur only to realize that our medical labs’ business management needs enhancements? In fact, we must be ready to face anything that the future brings and also sustain ourselves to do better in the growing competition & the changes we see in the market.

While choosing a solution to reduce the burden of lab management hassles, a decision-maker must know the best options available out there. Let’s understand what types of LIMS are available today and which one is best for the nature of your business.

Offline Lab Software – LIMS

Offline medical lab software is also called standalone LIMS. As its name suggests, offline solutions, it is only accessible from a single system and on-premise only.

Most offline lab software solutions offer registration, sample data entry, and report generation features with limited storage space. The storage of an offline system depends on the type of computer (PC) or laptop you use within your lab premise.

Offline LIS usually requires system-supported configurations and hardware server setups. It comes in a package-based subscription that is suitable for various types of lab businesses.

Pros of using an offline lab software

  • Does not require an internet connection
  • Package-based subscription as per requirements
  • Best for labs with very low volume

Cons of using an offline lab software

  • Only supports a specific type of OS
  • Limited storage capacity
  • Can take only a certain volume of data load
  • Offline LIMS system might crash if overloaded with data
  • Upgrades have higher downtime, hampering business
  • Higher subscription calls for more money and time for reinstallations and setups
  • Hardware servers required

Most offline LIMS do not offer comprehensive benefits for a lab within the same system. They are often limited to patient registration and reporting. You often have to separately purchase a billing and finance system for your lab business since offline LIMS do not provide it. And there are many more limitations ahead.

Limitation of offline workflow software

With lab software that is standalone, offline, or one-time installation-based, you have more limitations compared to the features it provides. It is inconvenient to do business with when a major portion of the lab requires a smart workflow. But, offline workflow software fails to fulfill these key requirements. Hence, if you utilize such tools for your business, you might be falling short in many aspects of quality service delivery.

Here is the list of limitations or missing features –

  1. Paper Management

    Let’s face it. Paper management is complex & it directly impacts productivity.

    One patient has at least 5 documents in his file – registration papers, bills, case papers, test lists, and past medical documents.

    So if you are looking at managing at least 10 patients a day, not to forget the business paperwork, the lab documentation, and others, half our efforts are torn by it. And the latter half is taken by the data entry task.

    How is that more important in healthcare than aiding patients? Does your offline workflow software help you get rid of this paper management?

  2. Lab Finance & Tracking

    Managing lab finances is a task no lab can let go of. Although are you aware that a lack of a tracking system can keep you aloof from the leakages that usually occur in lab management?! Offline systems often fail to offer this feature which can be a major bottleneck for business growth & stability.

  3. Data Backup & Management

    Data drives your business. Patient data is sensitive whereas business data is critical. Offline laboratory software is highly prone to data leakages, data loss, and data security. Also, offline LIMS systems often have accessibility limitations and work slowly with a high load, therefore slowing down the daily workflow. Similarly, the loss of any kind of data can be a big problem for businesses.

  4. Heavy Price For Upgrades

    Healthcare is data-driven but a standalone LIMS is unable to fulfill heavy data load; especially during peak business hours. This is why labs often go for upgrades and pay a heavy price affecting their budget. This might also hamper service due to re-installation processes and halt system utilization, impacting the business somehow. On a similar note, maintenance of such a system will again ask for your extra bucks.

  5. Competitive Benefits

    As per an interview with Dr. Sangita Joag, Satyam Pathology, India, the offline system that she opted for her business offered only means for patient registration and report generation. However, it wasn’t robust enough to offer competitive benefits like analytics, tracking, and automation tools that ease business.

    So, despite having offline lab management software, you have to purchase other software as well for lab billing, finance and even accounting for that matter. This is again a costly affair adding up to all the limitations mentioned above.

In fact, an offline system often calls for additional purchases or add-ons for malware protection, data storage upgrades, and more; which adds to more expenses than planned.

To summarize, despite offline software, more than half the process involved in lab management requires manual effort with paperwork and redundant tasks. These might lead to more errors, leakages, and TAT in the given system.

Online LIMS Software

Online LIMS software, web-based LIS or cloud-based LIMS offer lab information management from anywhere, anytime. So you can operate your lab off-premise, take decisions in real-time and keep track as you cater to patients.

Online pathology lab systems do not require an on-premise server setup and hardware infrastructure as everything is taken care of, by cloud servers. As compared to offline, the storage is much more robust, faster, and more for web-based laboratory software.

You do not have to worry about OS compatibility or system configurations while choosing online LIMS software. It also offers subscription-based packages as per the type of lab business.

Why Online Lab Software is simply superior to their Offline Lab Software counterparts

Online lab software is the perfect solution to all the above challenges (and requirements) that a clinical lab needs. It must be held up as a comprehensive solution for end-to-end lab management, including lab finances, billing, communication, and more.

Enlisted are the benefits of online lab software management solutions:

  • Disaster proof
  • Easy accessibility anytime, anywhere
  • Faster management due to the digitization
  • Robust & ready-to-use features
  • Automatic upgrade doesn’t hamper work
  • No maintenance required
  • Highly manageable with fewer-staff
  • More opportunities for business improvement & expansion
  • Unmatched data security & reliability
  • Integrations with other tools/software

The only con that a cloud-based solution has is it requires an internet connection to operate.

To know more about online lab pros and cons, read the article on the advantages of lab automation for your business.

What the immediate future of Online LIMS Software & Medical labs looks like

Healthcare technology and solutions are becoming smarter, and patients expect a smarter experience with your diagnostic lab. Since the diagnostic era is emerging and growing to deliver more benefits, living up to and matching patient expectations can help you deliver faster responses and aid. This engages them and boosts retention for your business.

While report accuracy and quick report delivery are the new norms, if you have them, it will again add up to higher customer retention, gauging customer loyalty. Moreover, complete digitization helps in faster communication with all stakeholders (referrals, organizations, partners, and even your valuable patients). In a nutshell, quick and quality service boosts your medical diagnostic business’s ability to stand still in the growing and transforming market.

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