More than seven billion samples are tested in the US every year. The healthcare system needs to track those tests and ensure their validity, and accurate analysis depends on quality software. The lab sample tracking software market is expected to reach $2.88 billion by 2025, according to research.
In this article, we share our experience developing lab tracking systems. Moreover, we will outline the principles, best practices and trends in building software for labs.
WHAT IS LAB TRACKING SOFTWARE?
First, let us answer the question: “What is a sample tracking system?” and discuss the features needed for this kind of software.
Lab tracking software is an advanced solution for laboratories that helps manage samples or track containers with a barcode application. With this software, the lab can define where each sample is. It also provides information on what testing stage you are in. A sample tracker laboratory can ensure detailed and accurate information on each tested fragment.
Lab sample tracking software ensures that every person will get their test results and reduces the number of misdiagnoses. That is why modern healthcare systems invest in advanced software for managing lab samples.
WHY IMPLEMENT A LAB TRACKING SYSTEM?
A laboratory sample tracking system is integral for modern laboratories because it makes sample managing accessible and efficient. It is hard to imagine a lab without digital software to analyze the data.
There are also other benefits when using a lab tracking system.
Here are some ways a lab can benefit from a tracking app:
- reduce the number of errors, as every sample or item will have unique identification
- fast sample search from any location
- save time by providing immediate feedback on work progress
- planning for delivery of test results
- automate and coordinate lab workflow
- easily update to the full version of a laboratory information management system (LIMS)
LAB TRACKING FEATURES FOR ADVANCED SOLUTIONS
What development features are important for lab tracking software? Some essential things that should be added to the system by lab workers are:
- general information about the sample (name, ID, volume)
- sample location
- any sample activities
- current status
Some additional features that make lab tracking software competitive include:
- Timeline Indicator. This feature allows labs and clients to track changes in the testing process. If there is a change in stage, volume or location, they will get a notification. Also, the timeline provides time estimates on every step the samples go through.
- Type and Source Management. Another essential feature is to enable labs to organize the samples in the system by type and have a data field for their attributes. It might also be necessary to know the source of each sample. For instance, it can be a sample from a hospital lab, study or experiment.
- Sample Lineage Tracking. An advanced tool for computer lab tracking software that provides lineage graphs to visualize the parentage of a sample.
- ID generation. Manual sample IDs and ID generation by the tracking system are other vital thing to add to software solutions. The ID generated by the system should contain a naming pattern customized by the administrator.
- Freezer Management. This option allows tracking the storage or freezer location of the sample.
- Cost Efficiency Tracker. Another option that can help manage lab testing is the ability to see the cost of sample testing in the tracking application. In this case, the lab and clients will know the cost changes at each stage.
WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING LAB TRACKING SOFTWARE
Consider various factors to determine what lab tracking system is best for your business. We will define the most significant factors in choosing software solutions for laboratories below.
THE INDUSTRY AND LAB TYPE
One of the first things to consider in developing a sample tracking system is what specific samples you will track. Different industries can have regulations and policies for sample management. For example, a pharmaceutical lab requires a lot of specific documentation for sample tracking. Scientific or research labs, on the other hand, will look for open-source tools for lab software. The best advice is to choose software that focuses on your industry and lab type. It will help you overcome common challenges and ensure efficient integration with other applications.
Remember that sample tracking should be simple. It is a problem if the software makes result interpretation difficult. That is why you need to ensure that the tracking software is easy to use and navigate. Moreover, the solution should be flexible enough to work with other labs. In some cases, the lab can work with different samples and may need to rapidly add functionality into tracking software.
IT ARCHITECTURE AND RESOURCES
One of the most critical things to consider in lab tracking software development is how to organize the system. Its architecture will have the most significant influence. For instance, it will define who will access the tracking data and maintain the system. IT resources will determine if the software will be cloud-based or on-premise. Moreover, the resources will affect the cost limitations for software development. That is why you need to consider these things first.
Developing a lab tracking system is complicated but necessary for almost every laboratory these days. In most cases, the tracking system will be a part of a LIMS. Also, some labs require unique and custom solutions for sample tracking.
We talked about the most essential features for advanced lab solutions and guided you through the most important things to consider when choosing the best software. Cprime works with laboratory testing software for different industries and has broad expertise in LIMS solutions. If you need support to develop lab testing software, contact our specialists.