The role of technology and how it’s supporting us throughout this pandemic has often been highlighted. We’ve had to get used to the ‘new norm’ of conducting our meetings on Zoom, Microsoft Teams and the other remote conference systems. The endless array of backgrounds gives you a tiny glimpse into someone’s home life. And our day just wouldn’t be complete without someone mentioning that ‘You’re on mute’, ‘You do realise your video is on’ or ‘You know we can’t/can see your screen’. But there’s one type of software system that’s quietly working away in the background in some labs and Biobanks. It’s playing a critical role in the fight against Covid-19 – that’s a laboratory information management system (LIMS).
Tracking and managing the lab sample testing process
You may have repurposed your lab to help provide extra testing capacity for Covid-19. As a result, you could well be processing and testing thousands of samples. What’s more you need quick turnaround times to stop your lab becoming overwhelmed.
When it comes to capturing and processing large amounts of tissue sample data a laboratory information management system (LIMS) helps you to do this accurately, efficiently and consistently. Plus, a LIMS that provides integration with your lab instruments helps speed up the testing process. It also reduces potential errors that sometimes occur when manually entering data.
Underpinning the sample research process
You could now be receiving more tissue samples into your lab than ever before. For each one you need to record, label and store appropriately. What’s more, you also need to record data about the donor and corresponding informed consent. The more you understand about the donor, their medical history and demographics the greater your insight when carrying out research. And, this data is more important than ever. Crucially helping to increase our understanding of how some ethnic groups and ages are disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 virus.
You may want to set up your Covid-19 research as separate projects and studies. This helps you work on them separately from your existing research initiatives. Achiever Medical LIMS is performing this role at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals Trust (NNUHT) . The team will also be using its data import tool to bring in data. All this is helping to improve efficiency and accuracy.
Supporting you in delivering samples for use in scientific research
If you’re a Biobank storing and processing biological samples, you may have samples from healthy donors and/or those who tested positive for Covid-19. Having an accurate, searchable tissue bank for those actively involved in Covid-19 research to use is therefore invaluable.
A LIMS such as Achiever Medical provides secure, online researcher portals where authorised researchers can source and request samples for use. Its tissue request process along with its in-built approval management and dispatch tracking capability enable users to manage and audit every aspect of the tissue transfer process. What’s more, its integration with the online UKCRC Tissue Directory helps you publicise your available sample holdings to a wider audience.
Simply helping you manage your new lab and sample management processes
But even if you’re not directly working in Covid-19 research or testing it’s probably not quite business as usual in your lab. You’ve probably had to change the way you work, and possibly even capture new information about your samples and donors. Plus, if you’re working remotely you may have identified data access and security challenges in your existing systems and processes.
Using a web-based, configurable LIMS like Achiever Medical, enables you to map your processes in the system. You can adapt these as your needs change. Plus, you can access it remotely or even allow authorised external collaborators to access selected study data securely.
It can also support you in meeting regulatory compliance with its inbuilt auditing.
A final thought on the role of LIMS in the midst of a global pandemic
We’ve all been surprised at how quickly we’ve been able to adapt at a time of great uncertainty. When you’re suddenly faced with new ways of working and unprecedented data volumes it’s important to have the right software to support you. This can make a huge difference.
A LIMS can play a critical role in your lab to help remove some of the unnecessary administration work and duplication. At the same time it can improve quality and increase regulatory compliance. All this allows you to focus on and effectively manage any new requirements and priorities that may arise as this extraordinary situation develops.