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5 mins read

Should You Use a LIMS or a LIS? Choosing the Right Solution for Your Lab

May 1, 2024

Laboratory information management plays a vital role in the accuracy and reliability of testing results. Since the bygone days of spreadsheets and filing systems, laboratory technology has advanced significantly. Labs today supply researchers and technicians with sophisticated digital tools that support them throughout the testing process, from sample processing to results reporting. However, in the universe of laboratory informatics, there is no shortage of software acronyms. Which is the appropriate laboratory information software for your lab?

Of the many solution acronyms that lab managers are most familiar with are LIS and LIMS, two laboratory software systems that play critical roles in optimizing operations and enhancing efficiency in the lab. Here’s what each of them stand for:

  • LIS: Laboratory Information Systems
  • LIMS: Laboratory Information Management Systems

The similarity of these acronyms is misleading. Although they share the same overarching goal—effectively managing laboratory data—they serve distinct purposes and have features that are aligned to different types of laboratories and their needs. In this blog, we will delve into the differences between LIS and LIMS, to help you make an informed decision about which solution is best suited for your laboratory’s unique requirements.

What is a Laboratory Information System (LIS)?

A Laboratory Information System (LIS) is a specialized software for medical facilities and hospitals that collects, processes, manages, and stores patient-related data, such as specimens, results, and billing information. LIS software keeps data secure and enables medical facilities to access records when they need to.

The ever-increasing volume of laboratory data has prompted the need for technology to efficiently manage lab personnel, optimize workflows, and support medical facilities as they diagnose diseases and make treatment recommendations. Given LIS technology traditionally focuses on pathology, diagnostics, and patient-relevant data, LIS are most often used within medical facilities for straightforward sample management, such as rapid testing for COVID-19.

LIS can also serve as an important bridge between medical laboratory testing and electronic medical records (EMR) systems, offering seamless communication between lab workers and medical facilities.

What kind of data does an LIS manage?

  • Patient Information such as demographics, test orders, and medical history
  • Test results, enabling rapid diagnosis and treatment decisions
  • Billing and insurance Information to streamline the processing of insurance claims and accounts

If you are looking for software for a medical or hospital laboratory, G2.com is a great place to start your search for a LIS.

Yet, laboratories do so much more than working with patient specimens. Laboratories are also the scientific bedrock of manufacturing, helping industries deliver products—be they chemical, pharmaceutical, food & beverage, or oil & gas that are effective, and safe, to market. R&D and quality manufacturing laboratories, for example, require specialized functionalities, often configured to their specific lab processes. Similarly, some public health and clinical labs have complex workflows that require the technology to monitor and track thousands of samples across multiple tests, if needed.

The Role of a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS)

In contrast to LIS, a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) is purpose-built to empower laboratories in a various industries, from clinical diagnostics, to public health, R&D, or quality manufacturing. LIMS help labs meet their diverse needs by being robust, configurable, and supporting a variety of laboratory processes to increase efficiency and precision. The core functionality of a LIMS is to enhance productivity by aggregating and tracking all lab data associated with samples, experiments, and workflows. LIMS can also integrate with lab instruments and devices, to support completeness of data capture and minimize transcription errors.

Quality manufacturing labs require batch testing and have more complex workflows, necessitating a robust system like a LIMS. For laboratories in highly regulated industries, LIMS can help simplify compliance, by maintaining a complete and accurate audit trail with electronic signatures. LIMS are used in labs across a variety of industries, such as agriculture, CDMOs, and consumer goods, as they test products for quality and safety prior to commercialization.

LIMS also act as a centralized, living archive for all information generated in the lab—from sample and disposal to analysis and insight—and can function as a digital point-of-collaboration throughout the testing process. LIMS provide lab leaders with real-time visibility into all lab activities, so they can maximize their labs’ efficiency and effectiveness. This enables organizations to protect their investments and derive maximum insight from virtually every piece of data, enterprise wide.

In Short, a LIMS Helps R&D, Quality Manufacturing, Clinical, and Public Health Labs…

  • Streamline sample tracking and management 
  • Expedite batch testing
  • Optimize lab processes and workflows
  • Manage lab and experiment data efficiently

STARLIMS Sets the LIMS Industry Standard

Automate and optimize lab workflows, minimize manual tasks, and enhance data integrity with the LIMS technology from STARLIMS. With our LIMS, users have access to a robust set of features that support the comprehensive management of lab operations. Get a holistic view of laboratory operations and enable your teams to accelerate deployment and time-to-value, without additional overhead. Our LIMS sets the industry standard and contains over 15 out-of-the-box workflows, including batch testing with COA, stability, environmental testing, materials receiving, contract labs testing, continuous process, sample testing, outsourcing, and more.

In the complex world of laboratory informatics, understanding the fundamental differences between a LIS and a LIMS is pivotal for selecting the right solution for your lab. LIS caters to labs handling patient-related specimens and data, while LIMS provides flexible solutions for R&D, quality manufacturing, public health, and clinical laboratories. Still unsure of which system is right for you?