Your data is one of your most valuable assets. Without quality controls and standards in place, your data can very quickly become inaccurate, out of date and difficult to use. Although data management tools such as spreadsheets and document management systems are simple to use, they very quickly become unstructured. And that means unusable! Often your team alter the templates you so carefully created to manage their own requirements. Suddenly new ‘templates’ start to appear, resulting in numerous versions that you can’t track. Plus, any rules you try to implement are simply by-passed. Using sample tracking software to manage your data – and processes – can help you overcome some of these common challenges.
How you can use sample tracking software to manage your data
In general, databases are a great way to record information. They help maintain the structure of your data but they are often difficult to use and not defined around how you work.
However, purpose-built software applications, such as sample tracking software, offer more than just data capture. Sample tracking software like Achiever Medical, come pre-built with standard lab workflows. This allows you to take advantage of best-practice – as well as being able to ‘hit the ground running’. As a result, you can start using the software and gaining its benefits very quickly.
And they don’t just help you with manual data entry. If you already have data and/or receive data regularly, for example in the form of sample receipts, many sample tracking systems have data import utilities. These also include in-built rules and checks to make sure your data is entered consistently.
Plus, sample tracking software can help you achieve and maintain legislative compliance by using additional capabilities including auditing.
More advanced systems, like Achiever Medical also give you interactive dashboards and query tools. So you don’t just capture data, you use and analyse it to make more informed decisions.
What if I want to add new fields and workflows?
Systems like Achiever Medical give you a range of flexible, easy-to-use configuration tools. You can use these to add new functionality into your system and make it really work for you! This includes adding new fields, updating picklists, creating new workflows and defining new workflows. And don’t worry you restrict these configuration options to your super users.
What are the key data management features offered by sample tracking systems?
The range of features and functionality offered by sample tracking systems varies. Data management is more than defining mandatory fields and picklists for users to choose values from. It is about identifying all the ways in which information flows through your lab – and managing and streamlining these. This includes knowing what data is captured when and who needs to see what information and when.
Sample tracking software, like Achiever Medical, helps you by
- ensuring that critical information is captured at the right point in the process
- automatically creating an audit trail of updates to data
- prompting users to complete the next step in a defined process
- preventing users from moving to the next step in a process until specific information has been captured
- guiding users through completing complex processes in line with your Standard Operating Procedures (SOPS)
- easily highlighting any missing information
- preventing unauthorised access to data or prevent specific actions being carried out based on permissions and opt outs
- alerting users to any data expiry restrictions or due dates for action
- ensuring any key information needed for reports or queries is consistently recorded against data by using predefined reference lists
- where data is imported from external sources, ensuring it adheres to defined standards by alerting users when any mandatory data is missing, or data does not match pre-defined reference list options
Additional functionality to encrypt and filter sensitive data and prevent unauthorised communication helps ensure you comply with data usage legislation such as GDPR and the Data Protection Act.
You only get out what you put in
To quote the well-known phrase:
“garbage in, garbage out”
As with any system, the data available to it is only as good as what has been put in and the system will only help you achieve your objectives if you use it.
If you give your users systems that help them do their job, rather than adding extra burdens, they are more likely to embrace the change that a new system brings. It is important to recognise that implementing these systems is not just about installing a new piece of software. New software, even sample tracking software, brings about real business changes. And undoubtedly you will need to review your existing SOPs and possibly even create some new ones.
Also, it can be a challenge to move people to a new system, especially if they are using spreadsheets that are quick, simple and user-friendly.
If you decide to introduce a new sample tracking system, remember to be clear on your key objectives as these will help you to define your implementation journey. Implementing your new software in small, defined phases will allow you to go live more quickly and see return on your investment sooner. This approach will also allow you to maintain momentum.
A final thought about sample tracking software for data management
Data management is more than just about capturing information. It involves looking at all the ways in which you receive, use and send data – both manually and automatically. Also, it includes ensuring users can see information they need to do their jobs – and restricting sensitive data as needed. And don’t forget about compliance with both legislative requirements and your standard operating procedures (SOPs).
Finally, it is important to recognise that if you do bring in a new system it is not just your software that is changing – but also your processes.
Choosing the right sample tracking software for your lab can be confusing and overwhelming. But if you have a clear understanding of your objectives this will help you define your key criteria for your system and act as your checklist.
By choosing the right sample tracking system the quality of your data will improve. And your system will open that data up for you to give you new insights so you can use your information to improve and enhance your lab.