Modern challenges for Laboratory Managers
Aug 16

Modern challenges for Laboratory Managers

Modern working practises, coupled with the ongoing threat of cyber-attacks and the increased pressure placed on laboratory professionals and biobank mangers to comply with industry regulations such as the Human Tissue Act (HTA) and MHRA have placed the onus of responsibility on LIMS software developers to ensure their systems provide complete peace of mind for their service users.

As part of our ongoing development programme, the team here at Interactive Software have recently introduced Modern Authentication for our current Achiever Medical LIMS customers. Modern authentication is also included in Achiever Medical LIMS 5.6, due for release later this year. This software development is designed to enhance and strengthen our existing system access and provide additional security features to safeguard and protect data.

Modern Working

The recent pandemic has changed how and where people work. The Office of National Statistics published an article in May 2022 titled: “Is hybrid working here to stay?” The article stated that the proportion of people hybrid working rose in 2022. In spring of this year, when guidance to work from home because of the pandemic was no longer in place in the UK, 38% of working adults reported having worked from home at some point over the past seven days. This is in comparison to approximately 12% prior to the pandemic.

The requirement for flexibility in working location means that people are increasingly reliant on technology. For laboratory professionals this means there is a need for laboratory information management systems (LIMS) to be safely and securely accessed from numerous locations both at home and work. This, combined with the need to provide partner organisations access to all, or partial system data adds complexity and the need for robust, versatile, software systems.

Cyber Security

Flexible working practises have come to the fore alongside the backdrop for the need for increased account security and the critical, ongoing necessity to safeguard and protect data.

The Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2022 commissioned by The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) provided a comprehensive description of cyber security in UK organisations.  Among the businesses surveyed it found that around four in ten (39%) reported having some kind of cyber security breach or attack in the last 12 months. Unsurprisingly, around four in five (82%) of boards or senior management within UK businesses rated cyber security as a ‘very high’ or ‘fairly high’ priority. Additionally, the findings of the survey showed that one of the sectors most likely to hold personal data about customers was health, social work, and social care (81%).

For our customers, data plays an essential role in diagnostics, drug discovery, personalised medicine and, ultimately, impacting patient outcomes. The phrase ‘data is the new oil’ has been circulating for over a decade. For those working in life sciences and relying on quality data to make informed decisions, its importance cannot be overstated.

Life science labs are receiving and generating ever-increasing volumes of data. Keeping track of that data and safeguarding it from unauthorised access and use can be time-consuming, expensive, and difficult, especially when multiple systems, teams and collaborators are involved. Protecting data is not just a legal obligation but also a moral one. With data often relating to patients, their samples and medical history, it is imperative that laboratories act in accordance with a patient’s wishes and respect their right to privacy while using their information in any testing and research activities.

HTA Compliance

If you are based in the UK and store or handle human tissue you must comply with the regulations of the Human Tissue Act (HTA). People working with human tissues must have a licence to do so. Compliance with the act has been a legal requirement in the UK since 2005. The Act covers England, Wales and Northern Ireland. There’s also an equivalent act in Scotland, which has similar requirements. The Act is regulated by the Human Tissue Authority, which carries out periodic audits to assess compliance under a specific licence.

Complying with the HTA means that both an institute, and individual personnel, have a legal duty to track the physical location of all human tissue and safeguard all related data. It can be challenging to manage this  and is especially true if appropriate software systems in place to help.

For more than 15 years Interactive Software’s laboratory information management system (LIMS), Achiever Medical, has been helping labs and Biobanks successfully comply with the Human Tissue Act (HTA) and other regulations including MHRA and CFR 21 part 11, while at the same time, improving their laboratory and sample processes. During that time, we have also introduced new features to make sure our users have the tools they need as the legislation evolves. Plus, we have had first-hand experience of attending audits alongside our customers to make sure our software continues to meet requirements.

Achiever Medical and Modern Authentication

Achiever Medical LIMS provides a centralised, secure laboratory information management system that uses modern data encryption methods (AES-256), authentication protocols and technology to bolster security to protect valuable data while providing connectivity with other systems to give scientists what they need to carry out their research and testing activities.

We pride ourselves on constantly updating and improving the Achiever Medical LIMS based on the needs and requirements communicated to us from our customers. Modern Authorisation has been developed in response to the new day-to-day challenges faced by our users including account security, distributed access, and the need to ensure compliance with current and future regulations. The development has been designed to enhance and strengthen our current system, providing support to IT departments and seamlessly linking in with existing systems and policies. Alternatively, if preferred, users can choose Achiever Medical LIMS’ internal identity management tools which include multi-factor authentication.

Figure one below demonstrates Achiever Medical system access using Modern Authentication which utilises:

  • Central authentication and access control
  • Account and Password Policies
  • Multiple Authentication Providers
    • Achiever
    • Active Directory
    • Azure Active Directory
    • PingFederate
  • Multi-Factor Authentication
    • Email
  • OpenID Connect protocol built on OAuth 2.0
Achiever Medical LIMS Modern Authentication

Achiever Medical LIMS access using Modern Authentication


Want to know more

Our experienced business analysts here at Interactive Software ensure that our customers gain maximum benefit from Achiever Medical LIMS’ in-built processes to manage their standard operating procedures and meet their compliance, data security and quality requirements. We work closely with them to identify any process gaps by delving into critical business objectives and goals to ensure any required changes deliver the required outcome.

Contact us for more advice on how we can help you with your compliance and accreditation goals

About The Author

Sharon Williams has over 20 years’ experience of helping businesses successfully implement Sample Management Software and CRM systems. Appreciating that the software will deliver significant business change and improvements, Sharon guides businesses to help optimise these benefits. This includes advice on how to obtain user buy-in, evaluating and redefining existing business processes and how to gain a better understanding of their data to provide invaluable insight and inform business decisions.