We all understand the potential value of analytics, but implementing new solutions and making them work can be a daunting undertaking. Add in the new demands of the consumerized, mobile-driven world, and labs have to rethink how they manage operations. Lab managers know it’s time to make a systems change, but they struggle to identify the benefits that will justify the financial investment, and the transition from legacy systems and their methodologies.
Solution: Informatics solutions all promise to make your lab smarter and more efficient, but they don’t all deliver on that promise. In order to adequately assess the features of various platforms, it is essential to evaluate how a potential purchase will enable interoperability, prepare you for future demands and changes, and impact your end-users. There are three fundamental questions that can help simplify the process and keep the larger picture in focus.
Are you investing in an open system?
Connectivity and interoperability are critical in the modern marketplace. New solutions that operate as “islands” are of little or no value to today’s labs or the labs of the future. The technology needs to be based on open standards and be accessible by all stakeholders, possibly even other vendors, from anywhere at any time. This will not only streamline your workflow, reducing redundancies and the chances for error, it will make you more appealing to customers who are looking to partner with a lab that can connect easily to their other vendors or their own internal technology solutions.
Are you future-proofing your lab?
Don’t just look at an informatics solution through the lens of today. You need to consider the future. Legacy platforms tie you down to one way of doing things. What you need is the flexibility to grow and evolve as needs and technology change. No one can predict with 100 percent certainty what labs 15 years from now will need in order to work faster, smarter, and deliver better results, but you want to position yourself to best meet the challenge of those future demands. Transitioning to a new informatics solution is a significant investment, both financially and in the hours it takes to train staff and integrate equipment. You want to be able to look back years down the road and see that it was time and money well spent.
What will an informatics solution do for the end-user?
As mobility fosters an increasingly connected world, more and more people are going to want access to the data your lab is generating and they likely won’t be accessing that information from inside your headquarters. They could be hundreds, if not thousands of miles away, using their phone or tablet to tap into your network.
In healthcare, a push toward personalized medicine indicates patients will increasingly want direct access to their medical information and lab results. As forensics labs continue to take advantage of remote access capabilities, there will be an even greater push for information on demand. These are just a couple of examples. Across all industries using informatics, anyone with the responsibility to read and act on results will no longer have to stand next to a machine in the lab to get that information. Information-on-demand will be the name of the game and labs will have to step up to ensure they can deliver if they want to stay competitive.
To this end, information must be presented in an intuitive and easy-to-digest way. Remember, not everyone reading the data will have an advanced degree or understand highly technical reports. Informatics solutions must process the data and export it in a format that is easy for the end-user, whoever that may be, to understand and act upon.
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