Your lab generates a lot of data every day. You spend many hours carefully recording detailed information about your samples, donors and storage. Many labs only use data in its raw format and run basic queries like ‘how many samples of type x do we have?’. If you’re using a laboratory information management system (LIMS) to support and manage your lab processes and data, then you should be capturing your information in a consistent format. As a result, it should be easier for you to query and analyse. It should also be of good quality which means you should have confidence in it. And if your LIMS has analytics tools – not all do – are you making the most of these?
Are you actually delving into your data and using it to improve your lab operations?
Your data can give you crucial insight into the quality of your samples, your lab’s performance, new opportunities and potential non-compliance issues. A LIMS with data visualisation and analytics tools can give you valuable oversight of what’s happening, has happened and is going to happen in your lab. So, you can make decisions that have a real impact on your day-to-day operations.
What would you do differently if you could:
- See which samples in store had a thaw count over x
- Identify which samples have been sat in storage for over x months or samples that have never been used
- Know on a Monday you receive x more samples than any other day
- Highlight where processes are taking x days longer than average to complete
- See that x% of participants dropped out of the clinical trial on visit y
It’s not just big data for large labs
There are real benefits to being able to visualise your data, but you have to be clear on what you are looking for and what you want the information to show you. It’s very easy to be dazzled by some beautiful charts and graphs. We’ve all sat through software presentations where we think ‘ooohh that looks great!’ but in real life we know we’ll never use it. However, when done right analytics can help you identify real improvements and accurately monitor your performance and progress against your goals.
And it’s not just for large scale operations. Analytics can make a huge difference to labs of all sizes. Irrespective of your size of lab you still want to know how efficient your processes are, if there’s a new opportunity or if there’s a potential compliance issue.
Working with 3rd party analytics applications
Many laboratory information management systems use 3rd party applications such as Power BI, Crystal Reports or even Microsoft Excel to deliver reporting and analytics capabilities. These applications offer a range of options for querying, segmenting and displaying your data. And members of your IT team may already be familiar with these systems so there’s less of a learning curve.
While these 3rd party systems offer many benefits very often you’ll have to purchase separate licenses which can work out quite expensive.
Plus, it’s very likely that you’ll need assistance from your IT team to create the reports on your behalf. Or as a minimum give you some kind of view or query to use. All this means that it’s very difficult for you to create quick reports on-the-fly.
Add to this the fact that the data might not be real-time and that you may need to log in and out of different systems and it might not be quite the user experience that you were looking for.
Analytics capabilities included in your LIMS
The range of analytical tools available in lab information management systems varies from non-existent to fully integrated dashboards and reports.
Having an analytics tool as part of your LIMS should mean that you can query live data without logging into separate applications. As well as be able to control access to any reports and dashboards using the software’s existing permissions functionality.
Achiever Medical, for example, offers fully integrated dashboards that
- Enable you to set up dashboards in minutes that access real-time data
- Can be created by authorised users (not IT) through its easy to use ‘point and click’ dashboard editor module
- Give you full data visualisation and include a range of charts and maps
- Display real-time analytics with just 2-clicks
- Work with your existing data security filters so you only see data you’re authorised to see
- Allow you to restrict access to individual dashboards through its standard role and group permissions
- Don’t require a 3rd party software license
- Enable you to drill into individual records in the system for further interrogation
- ‘Slice and dice’ your data to focus on specific data sets
- Provide your IT team with advanced options to interrogate data using views and display data from multiple applications in one dashboard
The system provides a suite of dashboards as standard. So you can start building your analysis from day-one. Plus, you can use the system’s editor module to change existing dashboards or create new ones whenever you need them.
A final thought on LIMS analytics and data visualisation
When considered carefully data visualisation and analytics can help drive important decisions on efficiency, performance, compliance and identifying new opportunities.
And they’re not just for large scale labs storing millions of data records. Labs of all sizes can benefit from having a high-level view of their operations.
3rd party tools are used by several LIMS to generate dashboards and reports. Although these offer many benefits sometimes costs, access and the time it takes to create reports can be prohibitive.
A LIMS, like Achiever Medical, with an integrated analytics tool allows you to create dashboards in minutes; obeying any data and role permissions you’ve already defined and allowing you to access them quickly. As a result, you can save time, costs and resource while gaining new insight and driving improvements.