The decision to change LIMS doesn’t come easy as it is a key business investment. With data streamlined and in motion to manage day-to-day operations, a sudden change can break the chain. It hampers the flow of management at every end. Hence, you must take a step back and make a note of what is necessary to do at the evaluation stage of changing LIMS.
Since there are several factors for which labs are dependent on using LIMS, businesses must know what factors are crucial to consider before switching to a new LIMS. In this article, we will discuss the considerations you should take while changing LIMS, what can be their pitfalls, impact on business, staff, and your decision-making.
Let’s first understand the major factors to consider while planning to switch to a new LIMS.
Factors to be Considered while Switching LIMS
1. Business Model
Your lab’s business model is the foremost factor to consider while selecting a LIMS system. Typically, if a software solution is a wrong fit for your business, it would be less feasible to reap the value of the service offered by the technological solution. For example, for a B2B lab, having B2B-related features are crucial. They are-
- a dashboard to manage transactions
- a portal to share information
- a revenue monitoring module
These features are essential for smooth operational management. They streamline management for effective continuity and make EOD balance settlements easy in a medical lab.
Type Of Software Architecture
With so many types of LIMS available in the market, considering the right type of software architecture as per your diagnostics lab is vital in the long run.
The types of software architecture for a LIMS are as follows –
- One-time installation LIMS, also known as standalone offline lab management software.
- One-time installation, online LIMS, that works on just a single computer. It is also known as standalone online software.
- Cloud-based LIMS that works on multiple devices online.
- Offline software with different versions.
However, for any business living by the trend and basic market competition today, cloud-based LIMS has proved to be a boon. It boosts business growth at a pace through remote accessibility that also enables faster decision-making.
Cloud LIMS provides several benefits, one of the most important being you can cut down on several manual tasks, saving errors and delays that speed up delivery. However, the most critical lookout for such software must be for security and privacy.
3. Future Roadmap
For lab businesses, year on year the future roadmap and meeting the decided goals derive the graph of success. This is why you must consider choosing the most suitable solution to meet progressive goals and maintain higher performance and profitability.
Budget is a mandatory factor to consider while switching LIMS, as it can either lead to a great investment or a loss for your business. Your budget not just defines how much money you put into the system, but also how much you save and how much profit you’re able to make. Hence, LIMS should be considered to be an investment and not otherwise.
Let’s understand this concept deeply over a scenario. If your current system offers a budget-friendly solution with minimal effort, more flexibility, and saving extra bucks for you, then it is an investment. However, parallelly if you are looking at a system to switch to that has limitations, it can ask for more than expected.
A system that is not scalable or a system with a few features can force additional expenditure to meet other similar requirements of your lab. The perfect example of such a system would be a one-time installation-based online lab system, where you have to buy separate software for data protection and privacy.
A solution used for only reporting and registration but doesn’t handle finance is another example wherein the lab has to put more money into buying billing and finance software.
Hence, choosing a LIMS that is feature-rich such that it meets all your requirements and is also budget-friendly is a crucial consideration for any lab.
5. Installation & Support Policies
The criteria for switching your laboratory management software don’t stop at the awareness stage.
You must read all the policies that the LIMS provider offers after the purchase. The three mains to look at after the LIMS purchase are the installation/onboarding, support, and training. Each of the policies from installation assistance, post-sale support for queries, and system training for staff is equally important when you are using the software.
- Installation – Verify if the lab system is a one-time installation;
- Support – See for post-sale support;
- SystemTraining – System training is critical for efficient staff performance and productivity.
6. Instrument Interfacing Support
For error-free and TAT-controlled operations, instrument interfacing support is an interest. It is also one of the key features necessary for medical diagnostics today. Meeting this specific requirement indicates you are not compromising on your operational areas.
Check if the system you are planning to switch to offers third-party API integrations. This helps you to share necessary information smoothly. Doing so ensures you maintain better business relationships with insurance companies, partners, and third-party stakeholders.
8. Security & Compliance Certificate
Your data is sensitive and crucial as it is a summation of patient data, business data, and finance data. Hence, when you are dependent on a system that manages this data, security, and compliance are requisites. In that case, you should ensure your LIMS provider has the necessary security and compliance certificates. Also, make sure these certificates adhere to the mandatory regulatory standards of the region.
Set comparison criteria to understand the difference between your current system and the one under evaluation. Determine benefits and results, and compare the value of your current systems to the LIMS under consideration.
If the value of your current system with respect to all features and benefits is still high, then you must rethink the continuation of your current system. But, if the value of the new LIMS under consideration is too high as compared to your current system, in all scenarios, it is vital to switch for better growth.
10. Other Business Criteria
If your administrative staff or your medical diagnostics business requires a special setup made for any part of operations, finance, or B2B management, you should also consider these criteria while evaluating the new system.
Key Expectations to Have From Any LIMS
While the above considerations are most effective for any lab business, there are some key expectations from the software that labs should have for a successfully growing business. Understanding the ways in which the software can be beneficial is a necessity based on the growing customer demand and competitive market expectations.
Some of the key expectations that a lab should have from any LIMS are –
- Robustness – The LIS must be robust enough to handle your business workload.
- Expandability or upgrades – The lab automation system must offer expandability or upgrades for the changing and growing nature of the business.
- Compatibility – The laboratory information management system should be compatible with the system it is set up, for example, standalone software must be compatible with the Operating System (OS) of your computer.
- Feature-rich – The lab information management software should offer best-in-class and required features for complete management benefits.
- Customizability – Customization is essential for labs with multiple centers where there can be different types of labs that have varied functions.
- Flexibility – LIMS must be flexible and navigation-friendly to accommodate the workload of the staff.
- Traceability – Lab tracking systems are vital to improve efficiency and reduce delays and malfunctions.
- Security – All data must be secure while static or in motion as healthcare data is the most sensitive piece of information.
- Privacy – Privacy of data is another key expectation for any diagnostics management solution that cannot be compromised.
- Communication – Communication with patients and stakeholders must be streamlined and smooth to deliver the best services and maintain patient satisfaction.
Pitfalls of Switching to a New LIMS
Overall, changing to a new LIMS can help decision-making by improving data management, workflow, and integration with other laboratory systems. However, cost considerations and user adoption must also be taken into account to ensure that the new system is effective and efficient. Moving ahead, let’s also discuss a few pitfalls of changing LIMS.
They can be-
- Spending more costs and efforts on the system training of staff.
- Setting new metrics and goals to measure performance, throughput, and profits.
- Setting new workflows and practices for daily operations, as per lab departments and type of business functions.
- Time constraints may hamper business continuity.
- Implementations and complete setup to run business operations take about months.
- The time taken for setup completion and delay in hands-on experience hamper the staff productivity.
- Understanding complex functionality requires constant support from the vendor.
Impact of Changing to a New LIMS on Business
The decision of switching to a new LIMS has a major impact on decision-making for various roles in the lab and also affects staff productivity in many ways. Summarizing a few can be as follows-
Factors that impact decision-making-
- Paper management can count on efforts and also lead to errors.
- No system for analytics can cause delays.
- Management transformations.
- New KPIs for the business.
- Variations in final output, throughput, and performance.
- New metrics to monitor, and new criteria to follow.
Factors that impact staff-
- Need for new training programs.
- Change in staff roles and responsibilities.
- Changes to the daily and department-wise workflows.
- Expected productivity, goals, and new EOD results.
- Change in management and communication criteria.
Pros Of Switching To a New LIS System
- Improved functionality and features, leading to better laboratory efficiency and productivity.
- Integration with other laboratory systems can lead to improved data management and automation.
- Improved accuracy and reliability of laboratory data.
- Better fit for the current and changing requirements of the business.
Cons Of Switching to a New LIS System
- Costly and time-consuming impact on every business ends.
- The staff has to be retrained, which impacts productivity.
- Potential chances of data migration issues or data loss.
With so many LIMS systems available, it is crucial for any lab business to understand what are your requirements, and expectations vis-a-vis what the software has to offer. While considering all the above-mentioned factors, it is also important to choose a LIMS that rightly fits your budget and is also scalable as per your lab’s growth.
A lab solution that can be leveraged for smooth business continuity and scalability can be the best choice for your business. A thorough evaluation at the beginning acts as an add-on benefit that can only bring more value and potential end results. If your current system offers good value but needs a few fixations, you can get improvement-based upgrades that are budget friendly than switching to an altogether new system. On the other hand, if the new system is an upgrade to a whole new level with next-gen possibilities and outcomes, switching to the new system is a better decision to make. Hope this article helps in making a wise decision while choosing the right LIMS.