Digital Laboratories – Reducing Workload & Increasing Patient Satisfaction

June 1, 2022

Patient diagnostics is the backbone of modern medicine. It offers the key physiological insights needed for effective and targeted treatment. But for several years, the laboratories responsible for providing accurate healthcare information have been impaired with slow, manual processes.

When medical tests are inefficiently handled, everyone right from the patient to the clinician suffers. Now, as the adoption of best hospital management software increases, we’re witnessing the emergence of Digital Laboratories.

A digital laboratory is the one which implements digital processes for communicating data informatics, quality control and improving how the diagnostics are managed.

A survey conducted with the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry members found that more than 90% of respondents aim to digitize their clinical processes.

The survey also suggests that as digital healthcare technology advances, digitization of labs will become one of the prominent Healthcare IT Trends.

Let’s understand how digital labs are beneficial for healthcare providers and the technicalities of implementing one.

Why Do Healthcare Providers Need Digital Laboratories?

Medical Decision Making

A typical laboratory produces a large volume of data comprising patient’s health data and bioinformatics. This data plays a pivotal role in medical decisions such as deciding the treatment plan, and accessing underlying information from a given data set.

A digital laboratory makes the analysis process much more comprehensive and streamlined versus a paper-based one. The data can be visualized, transmitted and absorbed quickly by disparate systems, enabling decision makers to have proper clarity on lab test results.

They don’t have to struggle with manual reporting that is static in nature, and isn’t as transparent as digital reporting.

Digital Stakeholder Collaboration

Laboratories usually operate within an ecosystem of stakeholders comprising hospitals, clinics, insurance companies and scientists. Therefore, the data generated by a laboratory may be required by multiple stakeholders at the same time while meeting HIPAA guidelines.

By digitizing the data portability process, laboratories can share test results with any stakeholder without worrying about data security. The best HMS software available in the market allows hospitals and laboratories to share data electronically, so that doctors can work productively alongside lab technicians for the best patient outcomes.

Speed of Laboratory Processes

Cloud technologies are accelerating the speed at which laboratories process data and make it available to clinicians. In olden days, medical data reports had to be physically sent over to the hospitals which made it time-consuming and often prone to errors.

But as digital laboratories can upload test results into secure interconnected networks, the same task that took several hours is reduced to mere seconds. Doctors can access patient reports from anywhere in the world in their desired format, making them capable of taking the right decision within time.

What are the Challenges to Digital Laboratories?

Financial Economics

Digital laboratories employ several technologies that are reported to be cost-intensive, making it a challenge for providers to meet the financial requirements. As the penetration of digital technologies improves, the costs are expected to come down.

There are many ready-to-use hospital management software products available in the market that can curb the digitization costs. But as the scale of operations expands, end-to-end digitization may involve hefty investments that concern providers.

Lack of Solutions

As we discussed that laboratories operate in an interweb of medical entities, it can be hard to implement solutions that meet highly-specific requirements. In order for a laboratory to operate digitally, the connected parties must also possess mechanisms for interpreting digitized data.

This can obstruct healthcare providers from designing customized solutions as it becomes quite complex. Hence, the availability of plug-and-play solutions for digital laboratories is a matter of concern for digital lab adopters.

Data Security Concerns

While digital data is easier to access and distribute, it comes with additional security overheads. The IT systems such as Hospital Information Systems and Laboratory Management Systems need to be rigorously hardened for protecting data breaches.

These security concerns can make providers wary of adopting fully digital processes. “Security of electronic records” is one of the four pillars of HIPAA – the national law that healthcare providers have to strictly abide by in all of their practices. Hence, the skepticism around data security works as a deterrent to lab digitization.

How to Successfully Transition to Digital Laboratories?

It’s evident from IFCC research that the benefits of digital laboratories outweigh the concerns. But in any case, healthcare providers seeking digital solutions need the right guidance for administering this transition.

We offer a set of value points that will help healthcare providers successfully meet their implementation goals.

  • Utilize FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable) data principles for warding off data security risks.
  • Bring data risk management practices into play early to lay a strong foundation for the solutions.
  • Educate and involve both internal and external stakeholders on how to handle digital data safely.
  • Transform legacy systems and existing processes to make them compatible with digital laboratories.

By heeding to the above points, healthcare providers can overcome existing challenges in adopting digital informatics.

SoftClinic – A Digital Informatics Solution

SoftClinic is one of the leading hospital management software that offers quick and affordable digitization of hospital processes. It comes loaded with digital-ready features for daily hospital operations such as patient management, laboratory management and e-prescribing. Clinicians and healthcare centers can frictionlessly adopt SoftClinic to increase their operational efficiency and step into the era of truly digital healthcare.

Key features of SoftClinic

  • Digital Appointment System
  • Digitized Equipment Interfacing
  • Advance Data Analytics
  • Integration with Bioinformatics Systems
  • Integrated Laboratory Information System
  • Secure Digital Reporting

Conclusion Making health data portable and secure is one of the recurring Healthcare Technology Trends in 2022. As we work towards a future with digital laboratories, we can expect a radical change in how patient data is handled and accessed. There is already a growing fervor among healthcare providers towards this trend and it is expected to grow in coming years. The success of a digital laboratory, however, depends not only on the technology but also the way data is handled and operationalized in the healthcare ecosystem.