Your job is hard enough without your software making it harder. It shouldn’t take you longer to carry out data entry than it does to do your day job. The right Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) or Biobanking software in your lab should be seen as an extension to your team. Supporting you in your day-to-day lab processes and helping you meet regulatory compliance. Your LIMS user experience should be positive – or at the very least useful.
You shouldn’t see your lab software as a millstone around your neck. Something that you’re putting up with because you’ve been told you have to use it. Or even something that you’re working around.
However, it’s important to note that, on the face of it, no software is going to seem easier than scribbling notes on a piece of paper or updating a spreadsheet. These methods are quick as there are generally few, if any, rules.
The trick is finding the balance. Making sure you’re accurately recording data and making it as quick and easy as possible. If you capture your data consistently and fully then you can actually start to use it. Your data can become a valuable asset helping you do your job rather than just being a necessary part of your job.
Simplifying how you find data and subsequently your biological samples
You want to be able to find the samples you need quickly and easily.
Recording data in spreadsheets may be easy but when it comes to finding something, it can sometimes feel like you’re looking for a needle in a haystack. Even if you’re only working with one spreadsheet, you may find yourself running the same query several times to handle the umpteen spelling variations of your different tissue types.
And for some labs and Biobanks it can actually be easier and quicker to buy new samples than try and find existing ones.
All this means you could be losing valuable time, money and resources.
A laboratory information management system should help improve efficiency in your lab. It should enable you to search across all your data using different parameters so you can find the information you want. Plus, systems like Achiever Medical also allow you to save your searches for future use saving you further valuable time and reducing the scope for human error.
Streamlining how you enter and manage your information
For your data to be useful and for you to be able to find it, you need to record it consistently.
When using spreadsheets, often rules that are put in place are overridden. This means you can end up with several variations and spellings for the same thing.
Lab sample management software provides you with single and bulk data entry screens which enforce any defined data validation, formatting and standardisation rules. Software like Achiever Medical also has wizards and prompts so you enter data at the right point in the process. In addition, the system automatically audits data updates and tissue sample movements, so you know who did what and when.
Plus, rules can be defined to stop or only allow certain processes to happen based on criteria being met. For example, you cannot process samples where patient consent has been withdrawn.
This not only helps with regulatory compliance but also with quality control.
“Our data quality has most definitely improved since implementing Achiever Medical. The system has allowed us to standardise data as it is entered and make sure critical data is entered at the right point in the process. This has helped save me time when searching for samples as I no longer have to think of all the possible spelling variations for tissue types!”
Automating your processes
When you’re using spreadsheets, you’re manually entering information. Sometimes you may even be entering the same information multiple times. This can lead to human error and even missing data.
Dedicated lab software can help reduce errors as well as save you time by integrating with instruments to import tests and test results. In addition, it may offer a bulk data import facility to bring in information from external sources and files such as spreadsheets and CSV files.
Lab information systems can also automatically complete repetitive data based on predefined rules. This saves you time while increasing the valuable data that you’re recording and processing. The scope for manual error is also removed.
In addition, they can help you manage your lab workflows including enforcing any approval processes and signoffs. This helps ensure consistency across your lab which can also lead to improved efficiency. Plus, it can help improve your quality control measures, resulting in better compliance and more confidence in research results. And it does all this without any extra burden on you.
Making your data work for you
If you’re in the habit of just capturing information, then you’re potentially wasting one of your most valuable assets. Your data needs to work for you. It should be showing you what’s working well, what’s popular and where there are problems.
Enter dashboards and reports.
A LIMS like Achiever Medical comes with a series of standard, interactive dashboards. Presenting your data in real-time they don’t just tell you what samples you have but what you’ve been doing with them and where there may be bottlenecks in your processes. And you can use them to easily navigate your way to your studies and individual tissue samples.
Plus, Achiever Medical’s Oversight Officer and Audit Management dashboards help you prepare for any forthcoming audits, as well as giving you the evidence. This not only reduces the amount of administration work you need to do but also helps reduce some of the stress that accompanies the build up to an audit.
A final thought on the LIMS and Biobanking software user experience
Historically, scientific software has focused on providing high levels of functionality with little emphasis on the user experience.
As a researcher or Biobank manager you want your lab information software to help and support you – not add to your already demanding workload.
A new generation of modern LIMS, including cloud systems have been addressing the issue of usability. These systems, like Achiever Medical, offer the same functionality as traditional systems while trying to make the software more intuitive and accessible. Supporting you and acting as an extension to your team rather than being an additional overhead. They become a tool that you want to use rather than just have to.