The terms LIS (laboratory information system) and LIMS (laboratory information management system) are often used interchangeably, but they’re different types of systems that have very specific purposes.
As it’s fairly easy to confuse the two, we’re here to clarify and help you understand which system is best for your lab. Hold on as we do a deep dive into the difference between LIS and LIMS. The best way to start is by defining them.
Clinfowiki explains that LIS have been developed and deployed to support all aspects of the contemporary clinical and specialty laboratory, helping technologists manage the quality and integrity of test samples (pre-analytical phase); all aspects of the testing and result review process (analytical phase); and the reporting of finalized results, interpretations and diagnosis (post-analytical phase).
LIS has also evolved beyond departmental workflow functions and often include advanced features, such as lab-specific electronic medical records direct clinician access via secure web connections (“Lab Portals”), full-blown billing modules for laboratories performing commercial testing (“outreach”), sophisticated interface engines for routing orders and results to external systems and on-board image archival systems (PACS) for pathology images.
As defined by Techopedia, a LIMS is a software system developed more to support laboratory research operations. This software system can track a very large number of specimens within one study and workflow, aggregate data for research or business intelligence purposes, and ensure laboratory operations are compliant with various standards and regulations.
LIS & LIMS Similarities
As we just saw, the two types of lab systems differ by definition, but they tend to be very similar when it comes down to functionality. Both systems can provide a wide array of functions that actually make them very similar:
- Specimen tracking
- Lab equipment integrations
- Case management
So again we ask the question, which one is right for you? Well, it really does all come down to the type of data you’re working with.
LIS vs LIMS: Data Focus
LIS is patient-centric and developed to help pathology labs track and process specimen testing to diagnose individual specimens. Whether in an anatomic, clinical, LC/MS, or bio lab, LIS is designed to be HIPAA compliant and support individual specimens while maintaining all the lab data throughout each step of the diagnosing process to deliver a comprehensive report back to a medical facility and/or patient.
One of the key differences between the two systems is that a LIS focuses on patient information and test results, while a LIMS focuses on test samples. In a laboratory, a patient-centric LIS is used to store demographic information, test results, and clinical histories and is integrated directly with electronic health records (EHR) to give doctors and other practitioners immediate access to test results. LIS is specifically developed for pathology labs.
On the flip side, LIMS is designed more for commercial labs that test on fluids, food, and beverages or even pharmaceuticals where they run massive batch testing. While LIS allows for HIPAA compliance, LIMS typically follows ISO/IEC 17025 standards, an international set of standards that set out the general requirements for the competent, impartial, and consistent operation of laboratories.
LIMS can be used by research scientists in multiple industries, including agriculture, water treatment, food science, and veterinary medicine.
Where to Use LIS or LIMS
- Food industry
- Pharmacy and biotechnology
- Environmental protection
- Industrial production
- Anatomical pathology
- Forensic pathology
- Pulmonary pathology
- Renal pathology
- Surgical pathology
- Clinical pathology
- Molecular pathology
- Oral and maxillofacial pathology
- Veterinary or plant pathology