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Lab Systems: A Rebounding Part of Health IT Infrastructure

"Seamless enterprise integration becomes a necessity because it makes key knowledge originating in the lab available to management in real time."

- After a five-year contraction in the market for independent laboratory services, the sector is expected to realize new growth sparked by demand from previously uninsured patients. That trend bodes well for laboratory information systems (LIS), which often offer connectivity to electronic health records systems.

Projected growth for lab services bodes well for laboratory information systems, which often offer connectivity to electronic health records systems.

The global market for LIS, also know as laboratory information management systems (LIMS), reached $1 billion in 2015, according to a report released by Kalorama Information. The analysis includes LIS in clinical diagnostic healthcare labs and LIMS in pharmaceutical drug discovery labs.

Labs are looking to new systems to automate or minimize non-value-added steps, according to Kalorama. At the same time, many LIS offer modular-based systems with customized functionality, scalability and the connectivity for integration with EHR systems.

"Researchers anticipate much from their LIMS, including an ability to connect virtually all lab instrumentation, perform automated data collection and track workflow," said Bruce Carlson, publisher of Kalorama Information, in a public statement. "The installation of a LIS or LIMS has the potential to increase a laboratory's productivity in the range of 40 percent to 50 percent over time."

The report indicates that the LIMS will become “a central system for integrating all the data from various systems in the laboratory, as the [LIMS] is often the workhorse of the lab involving data management.” As such, “seamless enterprise integration [becomes] a necessity because it makes key knowledge originating in the laboratory available to management in real time. Integrating instrumentation and laboratories at different locations facilitates better data correlation and collaboration, end-to-end report generation and more secure data exchanges.”

In a report released last fall, Kalorama estimated the global market for lab services to reach $102 billion by the end of 2015, with increased emphasis placed on gathering, interpreting and delivering information to physicians for the purposes of monitoring patients’ conditions and overall health. The report pointed out some success by independent labs in operating on a regional basis or in focused areas such as genetic testing. In addition, specialties such as oncology, endocrinology and gynecology are utilizing lab testing for early disease detection and prevention.

In an interview with HealthITInteroperability in October 2015, Matthew Hawkins, president of laboratory software developer Sunquest Information Systems, said lab information is part of an ongoing movement toward more openness.

“It’s about being able to move data — making it more liquid from the lab or even from a lab instrument that does analysis — back to the lab software to the EHR or to the health information exchange, and ultimately to the patient,” Hawkins said at the time.

In clinical environments, about 80 percent of physicians’ diagnoses result from lab tests, according to Kalorama. The rise of personalized medicine and increased emphasis on disease monitoring may increase informational requests originating from lab systems, according to Kalorama.

The need for LIMS in drug discovery and early-stage development to provide global access to data and improve visibility across enterprises for work already done will also drive demand for such systems, Kalorama noted.

 

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