Building a custom LIMS software – Understanding the Why’s and How’s

Dileep Gupta December 12, 2022
Healthcare LIMS software development

Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) is a solution used in laboratories to automate recurring tasks, and manage lab samples and related data. An LIMS system assesses every step of the process, from the moment the samples arrive to data recording, storing, reporting, and archiving

Due to its efficiency, LIMS software development makes its way into many different sectors and industries, including public health, bioinformatics, chemical manufacturing, geoinformatics, etc. The extensive use of the software in different industries is also evident by the fact that the global LIMS market is projected to reach a value of $2.1 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 13.2%, as per a report by MarketsandMarkets

Now, while the LIMS software holds value in varied industries, the one industry for which it holds utmost importance and maximum value is healthcare. 

The pandemic has significantly increased the demand for medical laboratory services and healthcare businesses thrive on the accuracy of their laboratory results. You might have the best quality equipment in your lab, but the reliability of your lab results is what will gain your customers’ trust. It is a major reason why healthcare businesses are now adopting  the LIMS technology. 

Step in with your curiosity because in this article, we will cover all the Whys and Hows of healthcare LIMS software development. But first, let us check out some market insights. 

Healthcare LIMS Market Insights

The healthcare businesses in the US receive an order of about 14 billion lab tests every year and 70% of the medical decisions are taken based on these results. Thus, it is of paramount importance that the medical lab results are reliable, effective, and cost-efficient. 

To make up for this need, the demand for building custom LIMS solutions is soaring in hospitals and other healthcare institutions.

According to a report by Data Bridge Market Research, the global hospital LIMS market is expected to reach $4.90 billion by 2029, registering a CAGR of a whopping 20.55% during the forecast period, 2022-2029. 

Global Hospital LIMS Market 2022-29

With this growing market scenario and the constantly rising consumer demand for lab tests, you now know how imperative it is for your healthcare business to invest in LIMS software development. But a question regarding how it actually makes the lab processes easier and efficient might still be hovering in your mind. So, let’s find that out in our next section by looking at the three major benefits of adopting an LIMS software.

3 Major Benefits of adopting a Healthcare Laboratory Information Management System

LIMS does more than just automating processes in a laboratory. Let us discuss the three major benefits of LIMS for your business.

3 Major Benefits of adopting a Healthcare Laboratory Information Management System

Enhanced Accuracy and Efficiency

LIMS completely eliminates the need for paper use in a lab, boosting throughput and guaranteeing the accuracy of data. It also cuts down turnaround times by eliminating manual procedures. An LIMS enables regulatory auditors to swiftly obtain the data and completely eliminates the danger of data loss or fraudulent reporting. An LIMS also forbids the use of out-of-date or miscalibrated equipment for analytical testing, ensuring accuracy of results.

Larger Integration Support

Various laboratory instruments and applications can be connected with effective LIMS programs for controlling certain activities and for ease of data transmission. For the safety and security of the data, the integration can be controlled. To improve resource planning and data management effectiveness, they can also be integrated with accounting software and enterprise resource planning (ERP) programs.

[You might also want to take a look at the different ways an ERP solution helps your healthcare business.] 

Streamlined Workflow

The use of LIMS in your laboratory speeds up workflows with completion monitoring. The tasks that the operator gives in the system, the LIMS program keeps track of each one of them. Systems are linked into your lab with the help of lab information, which speeds up internal operations and lowers operational expenses.

Automate your laboratory tasks with capabilities of LIMS

By now, you must be certain on why an LIMS system is beneficial for your healthcare business. But how does it actually work? Let us find out in our next section.

How Does a Lab Information Management Software Work?

If you build a LIMS system, you must know how it functions for a user. Every custom LIMS software, regardless of which industry it is used in, provides some common steps that need to be followed. They are listed below:

Register

Whoever is using the LIMS software needs to register first. The purpose could be anything from a drug test, or mineral check, to blood sample testing. But the first step is always to register the subject on the software so that report labeling can start.

Prepare

Once the registration is done, all the internal entries and processes automatically begin. Multiple application functionalities start operating, and raw data gets converted into input data for analysis. 

Allocate

At this point, the software will have all the data it needs. The following action is to allocate this data to different instruments and tools to complete the analysis. All these tools will operate independently and simultaneously to increase the reports’ efficiency.  

Validate

In case there are dependencies among data given by different tools in the last step, the system can be designed to do so. In the end, the data received from various tools are validated against the sample data. 

Approve and Retest

The checked and validated data gets labeled for final approval and then given to the subject as a report. However, if any discrepancy is detected during internal validation, the data will go for a retest. The data will go through the entire analysis again. The loop will continue till it meets the appropriate limit of validation or if it runs out of the number of trials. The validation errors are recorded in error logs.

Report

Once the data is ready, reports are labeled, and sample data is attached, LIMS software generates the templates. The fully prepared report is then printed or shared along with complete data of the previous processes through communication channels.

Archive

Once the software has sent the report to the concerned patient, the job does not end. You also need to track the analysis that has happened in your software. Therefore, the information gets archived in the data center for record-keeping purposes. You can design the software to save this data on a cloud of the institute’s own record center.  

LIMS Capabilities and Features

LIMS Capabilities and Features

To develop a custom LIMS software, you need to consider the specific features and capabilities of LIMS that your business requires. Below listed are a few of them:

Sample Monitoring

Sample monitoring is one of the most fundamental functions of LIMS. The procedure of tracking samples as they move through the lab and between departments should be automatic by this function. 

The software establishes a digital trail that excludes human error by providing unique identifiers. The custom LIMS software development your hired agency does should take advantage of this function.

Evaluation of Workflow Management

One of the key features of LIMS is that it streamlines workflow. That is how it also saves you time. With automated record keeping, you do not have to apply another process to take care of records separately. Once you have established the design and principles of the system, it will make decisions on its own and allocate tasks to appropriate tools and instruments. It can supervise the entire process without needing instructions about what has to be done next.

Central Storage of Protected Data

All LIMS must adhere to industry best practices for data storage. It should not combine test findings with personally identifiable information (PII) and must meet security criteria to prevent leaks. Additionally, you want it to be quick and reliable, so your lab’s productivity is not impacted.

Control of Inventory and Instruments

Keep plenty of test materials and chemicals on hand at your lab to avoid delays. As soon as replenishing is required, the software can send automatic alerts. Additionally, your LIMS can keep an eye on the condition of the equipment and promptly seek maintenance.

Module for Analytics and Reporting

By using this function, you can cut down on manual labor and increase lab productivity. Export your data so that internal divisions or outside clients who ordered the testing can access it. Utilize cutting-edge analytics to mine your data for information on demographics, health issues, or the cost of running your facility.

Management of Regulatory Compliance

Since the healthcare sector is so extensively regulated, it would be highly time-consuming to keep track of every requirement. Adopt a lab management system that includes built-in compliance tools, and keep them updated frequently to avoid legal issues. One of the sections below will go into more critical information about compliance.

Streamline your healthcare laboratory workflows by partnering with Appinventiv

How to Build a Lab Information Management System?

To ensure that you can operate a smooth workflow in your laboratory, it is imperative to have a robust Lab Information Management System in place. Let us dive into the details of building an LIMS that will make it a success.

How to Build a Lab Information Management System

Define Your IT System

The LIMS capabilities and features must correspond to your organization’s needs. While creating a custom solution may be more expensive, it is more suited to the objectives of the laboratory. Essential considerations when developing an IT infrastructure include:

Budget: Create a funding plan for technical support, implementation, and LIMS application development.

Functions: Identify the fundamental competencies needed to carry out laboratory operations.

The number of users: Specify how many staff members will have access to the system.

Sample observation: Depending on the particulars of your industry, select the best custom solution.

When choosing new features, it’s crucial to consider how LIMS will be used. It might be required for unusual laboratory procedures—for instance, integrated tools for the regulation of contractual relationships.

Your IT system should be equipped with technologies such as Java, Python, Ruby, and Kubernetes. Additions of Docker, Mulesoft, MySQL, and MongoDB, with high-performance computing clusters (HPC) and a variety of AWS services, will also help your custom healthcare LIMS software development.

Find a Development Partner

You must outsource an IT team or a software development company to build your custom LIMS software. They will be able to implement all the requirements given by you to mold the software as per your needs. An LIMS vendor might offer a demo version, implementation and revision price, tool integration, and regular updates for their LIMS software development services. 

Listing technical requirements of your project will make it easier for the IT team to get an explicit criteria of software development which will serve as the foundation for checking the final product. The work strategy, the intended uses for LIMS, and the project’s conditions and cost should all be included in it. 

Set the Design Layout

With a little brainstorming and visualization you will understand the design layout you want for your LIMS. At this stage, you want to check the design, talk about the graphical user interface, and decide on additions in the software. Customizing screens, navigating spaces, and simulating the customer journey are all design aspects.

Let your IT Team handle the rest of the design with your support. Their team with experts in software development, project management, graphic designing, and more, will ensure the best solution is delivered. You want to work with the LIMS development team to create an uncomplicated user interface. 

In addition, keep a strong security configuration in your software architecture with no loopholes. You can choose to protect it from public networks by limiting the access of IP addresses. 

Test Your Software

Even with careful planning, issues and additional requirements might still arise. Before finally launching the software, you need to test every feature and verify it for accuracy.

The software development company you hire is likely to have a team of Quality Assurance engineers who will take up this task of identifying problems in the system before it can be deployed. They will also check how much the software complies with the legal regulations and industry standards. 

Before the LIMS deployment, any issues found must be fixed to reduce inaccuracies. 

Prepare for Launch

Following functional testing of the LIMS, it is necessary to train staff members and set up the network and hardware. Dates for the implementation process must be agreed upon by both the customer and staff. It would be best if you first drafted a thorough plan to address the following issues:

  • Inactivity in the lab
  • The transfer of ongoing activities to the foundation
  • Engaging with the system while it is starting up
  • Post-deployment support

How Much Does It Cost to Build an LIMS Software?

Different LIMS solutions have different ranges of costs. These costs vary according to the type of LIMS you build, your current IT infrastructure, the number of users, and most importantly, your specific goals and requirements. 

But we can divide LIMS software into three categories based on its goals:

1. Data Organization

This is the easiest to implement, and its function is to organize the sample inventory of the lab. It provides simple sample traceability permissions. They are the easiest to build too, and hence, are not very costly. The approximate range of implementing this LIMS is $15,000 to $45,000 and can be built over 3 to 6 weeks. 

2. Process Automation

This type of LIMS implementation includes every function of the data organization type along with extra configurations for automating manual processes in the workflow. The cost depends on the number of processes you automate, but an estimated range can be between $30,000 to $70,000.

[Also Read: Business Process Automation – Benefits, applications, examples]

3. Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is a complex type to implement because it incorporates multiple departments with the laboratory. It takes care of all data from the commercial front-end to the laboratory back-end, and some can even look after invoicing if designed to do so. Since the technology to build this type of LIMS is more complex, it needs more time to develop. An approximation can be of 4-9 months for about $60,000 to $200,000.

Know the exact cost for your custom LIMS development project

How can Appinventiv Help in Building a Robust LIMS for Your Business?

Diving into the history of Appinventiv of 7+ years, you will find that we have so far delivered many great digital healthcare solutions, which have transformed our clients’ businesses forever. Appinventiv’s process is simple and clear, no matter how complex the problem is. We understand the problem at hand from the root and then try to understand the market of your business. From those insights, we conceptualize, design, develop, and deploy a solution customized for you. 

Here is an instance of a digital solution we created for a healthcare business:

The Appinventiv team created the Health-e-People app that resolves the gap people face in tracking their health-related data records. The app combines data from all healthcare devices that an individual uses, connects them to medical caregivers for advice and consultation, and forwards this data to researchers, with the consent of users, to make advancements in the medical field. 

Appinventiv has also worked on the YouCOMM app, which is a multi-request application that connects in-hospital patients to nurses to get immediate help. The problem faced by the company was the ineffectiveness of the bell-call system. We wanted a solution that would make it convenient for patients to let the nurses know about their needs. Appinventiv tackled the problem by curating a voice-controlled, multi-lingual, and multi-accent solution. 

YouCOMM gained immense recognition and was even awarded the CT BioScience Innovation Fund in 2019. The solution was able to bring the real-time response time of nurses up by 60%, and it is currently running in 5+ hospital chains across the US.

So, if you want a healthcare software development company like Appinventiv to work on building a LIMS solution for your company, it is the right time to contact us.

FAQs

Q. Why should your business rely on LIMS?

A. It is crucial to have an automated laboratory workflow to perform your analytical work efficiently and quickly while maintaining a high level of quality. LIMS completely adjusts to your unique needs and specifications as opposed to other software. It can be designed to suit the processes that operate in your lab, hence being completely customizable. Introducing a LIMS in your lab will only make your work easier and more reliable.

Q. How long does it take to implement an LIMS solution?

A. The breadth and complexity of the solution, the number and location of the labs/teams involved, and how quickly the customer can move are the primary factors influencing how long it takes to construct a custom healthcare LIMS software development solution. However, a LIMS may be built in weeks instead of the typical few months when using a highly experienced team with a proper development and deployment strategy.

Q. Can I integrate LIMS with other systems?

A. Yes! You can integrate your LIMS software with lab equipment and other applications to make the transfer of data between them easier. It will help you coordinate different elements of the report-making process and bring them all together to make the final reports.

THE AUTHOR
Dileep Gupta
DIRECTOR & CO-FOUNDER
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