How does Laboratory information system work?

How Does a Laboratory Information System Work?

In today’s diagnostic labs, the laboratory information system (LIS) is a critical tool. It supports laboratory functions and workflows to ultimately provide timely patient care.

To understand the value of a LIS, you’ll need to understand how it works. 

What is a laboratory information system?

Think of the LIS as the lab’s brain or central operating system. It provides the lab with an efficient way to build and distribute the diagnosis determined by examining the cells and tissues of a specimen. 

The LIS manages all the moving parts and data within a lab. It does so by capturing and storing clinical data, providing automated workflows, tracking each step in the process, and enabling technicians and pathologists an efficient way in preparing diagnostic data to be assessed, analyze, and diagnosed.

What does a laboratory information system do?

Much like the car assembly line, a LIS streamlines the diagnostic testing process from order entry to delivery of results. The LIS receives and tracks test orders ensuring quality control and consistent diagnoses across the lab. Finishing the process by sending diagnostic reports back to the ordering physician and patient.

At every step, the LIS tracks and records items such as:

  • Patient demographics
  • Clinical identifiers
  • Specimen descriptors
  • Clinical history
  • Specimen data
  • Grossing descriptions
  • Block information
  • Slide information
  • Pathologist’s notes
  • Diagnosis
  • Addendums

In addition to tracking and recording data, it provides the lab with a tool to efficiently perform work and adhere to policy guidelines. All automating tasks like:

  • Sending specific tests to the appropriate pathologists 
  • Automatically filling out fields based on specific stains or test/s ordered
  • Provide real-time visibility with performance reporting and dashboards
  • Batch label printing
  • Provide role-based user interfaces 

The laboratory information system does more than process patient samples, though. It should communicate with the billing side of the house to ensure each test is correctly billed. All the while, ensuring the lab remains 100% compliant with HIPPA, Medicaid, CLIA, CAP, and its own policies.

How does a LIS do it all?

The capabilities a robust laboratory information system performs are astonishing (like NovoPath 360 – yes, a shameless plug-in) and leave some wondering, how does it do it all? 
 
Behind every great LIS are technologies that power the platform. Let’s break down the core technologies of any robust LIS platform and how our clients are using them today. 

Cloud Computing

As defined by Amazon Web Services, cloud computing is the on-demand delivery of IT resources over the Internet with pay-as-you-go pricing.

Instead of buying, owning, and maintaining physical data centers and servers, you can access technology services, such as computing power, storage, and databases, on an as-needed basis from a cloud provider.

NovoPath 360 clients have made the shift to a cloud-based system. Meaning they are no longer managing servers, controlling server room temperatures, and ensuring uptime while remaining secure at all times. Giving labs time, energy, and budget back to focus more on lab operations and less on IT.   

Rules-Based Engine

Hyperon describes a rules-based engine as a flexible piece of software that manages business rules.

They continue to explain: Think of business rules as “if-then” statements. So, a basic example of a rule would be, “If A, then B, else if X, then do Y.”

Every LIS has (or should) have a rules-based engine. Today our customers are leveraging business rules in several ways: 

  • When specific tests are ordered the LIS will automatically assign which initial stains to order and secondary stains eliminating the need to for techs find the specimen from storage, re-gross, stain, cut, etc. ultimately cutting down initial TaT on stains they know they will need.
  • Assign cases to specific pathologists based on client, type of test, workloads, etc. 
  • Build out specific UI’s for each role based on the test ordered
  • Use specific color-coded blocks based on the test ordered
  • Pre-populate fields based on the test ordered

The possibilities with business rules are endless.

 

Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

Hyland best describes OCR as a technology that automates data extraction from a scanned document or image file and converts the text into a machine-readable form to be used for data processing like editing or searching.

OCR is not a new technology but it is surprising how many diagnostic labs are not taking advantage of this kind of automation. Our clients are using OCR to pull patient and order data off of requisition forms. Then classify and index the data to perform easy ad-hoc searches when needed.   

Business Intelligence (BI)

Creating reports starts with the data. Laboratories are consistently looking for ways to optimize operations. Doing it with real-time data enables managers to be proactive rather than reactive. 

Before BI managers would be forced to task their IT departments to find the desired data the pull it together. This could take up to weeks just to get the raw data back.  Meaning after waiting, the lab manager still needed to “work” the data to gain the insight they were looking for. 

A great LIS, like NovoPath 360, allows lab managers the ability to configure reports and dashboards without the need to contact the LIS or IT department for help. Meaning, instant, real-time analysis from pre-configured reports. 

Today our clients are able to:

  • Manage and understand trends to help grow laboratory services 
  • Perform root-cause analyses on longer than expected TATs, waste, employee productivity, and other issues that may arise
  • Understand staffs workloads to proactivity staff  the lab
  • Identify trends in order errors, testing errors, etc.
  • and a whole lot more!

Barcoding Systems

One of the most important capabilities of a laboratory information system is the barcoding system. 

Labs are able to easily and correctly identify patients, specimens, and laboratory testing. They are tracking and associating specimens and tests with the patient from ordering to specimen collection to analysis and reporting. 

What we recommend all labs track:

  • How long each step of the process takes
  • How long each employee takes to complete a process
  • Inventory Management 
  • Average TATs 
  • Lab Waste 
  • Storage 

Interoperability 

Interoperability is the ability of two or more systems to exchange health information and use the information once it is received. 
 

The NovoPath Interoperability Platform (DXE) provides diagnostic laboratories with end-to-end seamless connectivity with over 150 EMRs, instruments, and billing providers. With real-time insights and alerts, labs will never have to worry if data is being sent or received on time. 

 

Related Content Alert

Check out "Core Features Every Modern LIS System Should Have" for additional insight on enhanced LIS capabilities.

NovoPath 360 SaaS Laboratory Information System

NovoPath 360 provides pathologists an easy-to-use LIS that is proven to get more done in fewer clicks. Easily review specimen data, order new slides, collaborate on a case, and release reports..

How Does a Laboratory Information System Work? 

It has never been easier to find, review, diagnose and release cases before. NovoPath 360 is a preferred LIS for pathologists. See why:

  • Easily attach images directly to a case
  • Collaborate on a case with a pathologist across the hall or in another state
  • Easily save cases at any stage
  • Customize reports how you like them
  • Release cases in fewer clicks
  • Easily order more slides
  • Pre-configured diagnostic codes and descriptions
  • Configurable required fields to ensure data quality
  • Work on/share cases with other pathologists
  • Rich- text formatting
  • Quickly moves from one screen to the next without having to wait at all

Download our LIS vendor score card to easily compare LIS vendors with a predefined worksheet.

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