Earlier this week, I began a series of blog posts focused on the software selection process. Tuesday, I provided you with articles that would get those of you started who plan to do it themselves (https://outonalims.com/2011/09/06/laboratory-informatics-software-selections-day-1/). Yesterday, I discussed some of what HAS changed in our industry (https://outonalims.com/2011/09/07/laboratory-informatics-software-selections-day-2/). Today’s post is an overview of the increasingly meaningless terminology currently used in our industry.

Unfortunately for those of you starting your product selection process, our industry is still in-flux regarding the terms we use for our products and they will doubtfully be standardized any time, soon. Here are some examples of terms, some of which are more traditional definitions than what we use in real-life:

  • LIMS – Laboratory Information Management System (basically, it manages samples and tests in the lab, but often includes stability management, water loop testing management, and other functions that relate to managing the process).
  • LIS – Laboratory Information System (not the same as LIMS; LIS manages testing for the patient end of healthcare and clinical testing).
  • ELN – Electronic Laboratory Notebook (traditionally, we think of it as something that takes the place of the paper laboratory notebook from the jottings one makes to managing the signatures; often includes a variety of extras, sometimes even the same features one might find in a LIMS; modern definitions have begun to stray from this definition).
  • LES – Laboratory Execution System (makes sure that the users of the system execute their testing in a particular manner; these systems tend to be used by quality control or research development people and are sometimes just called an ELN).

So, this is just a small number of the terms used to refer to various systems in our industry. Some people refer to exactly the same software product by different terms (LIMS, ELN, LES) depending who they are selling it to. Within the categories, various products are meant for various industries. For example, you cannot merely go buy a LIMS, you would have to know what type you want. If you run an environmental laboratory, you would not want to consider LIMS that are focused on the drug metabolism area, for example.

Thus, as I mentioned in yesterday’s blog posting, it is more important to know your requirements than to get caught-up in product terminology.

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises

3 Thoughts to “Laboratory Informatics Software Selections: Day 3”

  1. There is an extensive discussion on terms and standardization of those terms. The title is: Do we need a new term to descibe systems that manage Laboratory Information?

    Here is the link to the discussion: http://lnkd.in/m4EQuJ

    This was a very lively and informative discussion on terms and the proposed standardization of those terms. There have been 110 comments so far by a number of experts in the industry.

    1. Call me crusty and cynical (and it’s probably the truth), but I have no confidence that we’ll do anything useful with it. We’ve had the same problems for the last 20 years, so what makes us think we’ll fix it, now? In addition, since we’re really in a state of flux probably worse than we’d been in past years, because we now literally have more terms and combinations of systems than when we only had LIMS and CDS, for example, it’s yet more of a moving target than ever before. On top of that, we do actually have standards for some of this out there. People don’t know about them nor do anything with them because they get obsolete so quickly.

      Some might say I’m being negative, here, but I actually just think it’s unrealistic to spend any time changing this, especially with as quickly as things change, these days. Thus, I’m putting all my efforts into pushing people harder on getting good requirements together. If they will do that, they won’t need to wait for our industry to get this straightened-out and, let’s face it — they have to do it, anyway. It goes back to yesterday’s tips that if you want your project to succeed then you have to do all the steps that it takes to make that happen, and developing your requirements is on that list.

  2. […] Yesterday, I mentioned some of the terms used in our industry and why they aren’t that useful (http://outonalims.wordpress.com/2011/09/08/laboratory-informatics-software-selections-day-3/). Today’s post talks about the places people get stuck when they do this, themselves, and […]

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