July 7, 2022

What is a Lab Information System (LIS)?

What is a Lab Information System (LIS)? A laboratory information system (LIS) is a healthcare software that records, manages, and…

What is a Lab Information System (LIS)?

A laboratory information system (LIS) is a healthcare software that records, manages, and stores patient data from all stages of testing for clinical laboratories and acute care providers. Supporting the full lifecycle of lab functions, an LIS can include decision-support rules that guide workflow, outreach tools, data mining capabilities, audit capabilities, and point-of-care testing. Through the information they hold about patients, laboratory information systems assist labs in determining patient health status and developing treatments. In the United States, LabDaq, Orchard Software Harvest, Medicus and Sunquest are among the most commonly used LIS. 

Why is an LIS problematic for primary care settings?

The benefits of automation and efficiencies that LIS software offers in acute care settings are difficult to replicate for primary care providers. Laboratory information systems have not been designed to meet the specific workflow needs of primary care providers. The systems are also large and complex. Even though LISs are occasionally used in primary care settings, implementing and maintaining them is challenging. The main challenges are:

1. High costs

Laboratory information systems require substantial ongoing maintenance costs and dedicated IT resources because of their size and complexity. Furthermore, the high price tag and high annual fees of LIS solutions contribute to a prohibitive cost of ownership and lack of scalability for a  primary care practice. Most primary care providers don’t have the budget or IT resources to purchase and maintain an LIS, whereas clinical labs do. 

2. Unnecessary and mismatched features

LIS solutions are heavyweight applications designed to send large volumes of lab test orders to instruments, track those orders through various channels, and record the results in a database. Typical features of lab information systems include specimen collection, processing, routing, accessing, patient check-ins, analytics, decision support, and custom workflows. Although these features may be useful in a busy laboratory setting, they overlap EHR functionality in primary care and are generally not needed for the type of POC testing done in primary care. Lab information systems are far too complex and bloated with features to be easily used by primary care nurses, medical assistants, or physicians.

Additionally, LIS solutions are more suited to the workflows of large clinical laboratories than to small but busy practice settings. For example, lab specimens can take weeks to process and follow up on in acute care, so the corresponding tools for automating related workflows in an LIS are not designed for the pace of primary care, where lab tests must be delivered within a short time frame to advance patient care. The many complex features of an LIS do not address primary care’s particular pain points.

3. Difficult implementation and required training

To manage the lengthy implementation process, ongoing maintenance, and day-to-day functions of LIS, skilled IT staff, preferably with a medical or healthcare informatics background, is required. To ensure a laboratory information system functions properly and meets the needs of a healthcare facility, trained technicians must supervise and use it.

Even though LIS vendors claim this solution maximizes staff productivity, the problem lies in how to ensure that primary care staff can effectively use the system to ensure optimal results. The primary care staff are simply not skilled or capable of being trained sufficiently to fully utilize an LIS, nor is it the best use of their time.

4. Wrong workflow

Testing is conducted in both inpatient and outpatient settings for acute care. As a result the workflow of POC testing in an acute care setting is different from that of primary care. In acute care, for example, follow-up of specimens can take weeks. Consequently, the corresponding automation tools for this workflow are not designed to be fast. For POC workflows in primary care, specimens must be followed up immediately to advance care. 

Together, these four issues make a laboratory information system unfeasible for use in primary care. LIS systems were simply not intended to be used in a primary care setting.

What is an Alternative Solution to an LIS for Primary Care?

Due to the challenges presented by an LIS, primary practices rely on manual methods for data entry and tracking of POCT results. In spite of not being as complex or costly as managing an LIS, manual workflows associated with POC lab tests can present challenges for primary care providers. The use of nurse, MA, or physician time to manually input information is time consuming and thus costly. In addition, human error can affect patient quality of care and incur additional costs and time. In today’s staff shortage environment, the inefficiency of manual POCT processes may lead a primary care provider to turn to an LIS as an automation solution for their practice to address staffing issues, not realizing that these systems were not designed for primary care.

To increase efficiency and connectivity, an expensive, complicated LIS is not the answer.  The POCT device to EHR connectivity and automation must be easy and affordable for physician practices. Relaymed is a new product category that meets these needs. By providing connectivity between your POC devices and your EHR, Relaymed offers the benefits of lab workflow automation in a simpler, more cost-effective manner than an LIS. Relaymed’s modern, cloud-based technology stack eliminates the massive hardware and implementation costs associated with laboratory information systems, while allowing providers to subscribe to Relaymed at a low monthly price through a monthly subscription plan.

LIS Relaymed
Connectivity from POC devices to EHR
Result and QC reports
Full-cycle lab management
Simple workflow
Low monthly cost
Minimal IT set up and support needed
Unlimited device connections included

Relaymed’s automated device connectivity eliminates the labor-intensive side of point-of-care testing and tracking, which means staffing resources are not required to input lab results. This system ensures 100% accuracy and secure test results are available instantly in your EHR. As a result, workflow efficiency is greatly increased. Since Relaymed partners with over 20 EHRs, integrating Relaymed into your POCT workflow is seamless and easy.

In addition to connectivity, Relaymed offers all the additional features in an LIS that a primary care practice would need. For instance, analytical reports, digital QC logs, and abnormality alerts can be generated when site reviews are scheduled or in order to recertify with CLIA. You will always remain compliant with regulatory bodies with Relaymed’s other great features and guaranteed EHR accuracy. 

With Relaymed, your practice will no longer need to worry about investing in a complicated LIS, wasting staff time on manual data entry, or making patients wait for test results. With minimal effort and cost, you can obtain the lab information you need to diagnose, consult and educate your patients.

Schedule a demo with one of our team members and discover why you don’t need an LIS to run POCT!

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Further Reading

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