The healthcare industry, especially pathology laboratories, is in a state of flux. Dramatic increases in demand over the last 12 months brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have accelerated existing trends and created new ones. In the increasingly competitive (and regulated) marketplace of today, digitization and automation of labs are a “must have”.
Overview: Pathology Management Software Must-Haves
Notably successful companies are known for their streamlined manufacturing processes, smooth supply chains and logistics, rigorous quality assurance protocols, and state-of-the-art automated and integrated software systems.
This doctrine applies to all pathology laboratories where the lab management system seamlessly integrates various pathology modules (anatomic and clinical), automates complex laboratory processes, possesses robust interoperability, and features a growth-driven pricing model.
Below we review five key features of a modern Laboratory Information System (LIS).
Lab Pathology Software Feature #1: Specimen Tracking
In 2021, web-enabled, Quick Response (QR) barcode sampling, should be integral to lab pathology software.
Automated, electronic workflow portals featuring QR barcodes render manual or paper-based records obsolete. The result is lesser human resource requirements, fewer errors, and enhancement in payment/reimbursement acquisition, thus increasing revenue and efficiency.
Lab Pathology Software Feature #2: Reporting
Placed at the end of the lab process, reporting is often one of the first features discussed in a pathology lab software demo. Without using modern management software, reporting can cause significant inefficiencies, including calls from both patients and physicians inquiring about reports, and manual dispatching of reports to the patient, payer, public health agencies, and other institutions.
Efficient pathology lab reporting has the following six characteristics:
This relates to the reporting software’s open architecture, versatile interface engine, ability to connect with a range of electronic medical record and billing services nationwide, and support for a wide variety of formats (embedded PDFs, XML, and links in HL7 messages).
The best LIS software should offer fully customizable report templates, personalization, saved preferences, full-color rich text, diagrams, and images – fully licensed, pre-loaded, and at no extra costs.
Configurability is a time- and cost-saving feature of a well-designed pathology Laboratory Information Systems (LIS), with embedded template engine, support for macros, attachments (images, diagrams), and annotations. It is similarly important for lab test scheduling and reporting software such as TestDirectly.
A successful pathology LIMS automatically integrates multiple test results from various departments into one easy-to-read report.
Decision Support Systems
The best pathology management software comes with risk assessment tools e.g., decision support systems and best practice protocols.
Automated Multi-Channel Distribution
A quality LIS reporting system automatically distributes reports via multiple platforms including email, fax, various web portals and printers, and/or SMS/text message.
Lab Pathology Software Feature #3: Scalable Pricing Model
Experts agree that unpredictable public health challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, impact the very fundamentals of the pathology lab business model. The one-size-fits-all pathology lab software price model is part of the problem.
For example, LigoLab LIS & RCM (Revenue Cycle Management) Platform has a unique pricing model based on the laboratory’s work volume. This cost-per-test model couples cost with the lab’s performance. With no large, upfront investment or restrictive licensing fees, it promotes growth and innovation.
Similarly, in the field of in-office medication dispensing, flexible and scalable pricing is crucial because some of the clinics which are dispensing are very small while others are large chains of urgent care clinics or even large corporate enterprises.
Lab Pathology Software Feature #4: Auto-Billing
In 2021, the best software must feature no-touch auto-billing systems that check patients’ insurance eligibility at registration, then auto-bills the payer or client. This saves time and money, reduces errors, and speeds up the cash collection process.
Lab Pathology Software Feature #5: Pooled Testing Capability
Pooled testing involves single-batch processing of multiple specimens, thus increasing capacity, reducing turnaround time, and costs-per-test. The ability to track and confirm retesting of samples is another vital aspect.
The Future of Lab Pathology Software
A lab’s underlying business model will determine whether it will be a winner or a loser. Prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of high-quality laboratory information software systems has now become a basic necessity for pathology labs in 2021 and beyond.
In this existential race, labs investing in the right software will thrive and lead.