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Buyer's Guideby Lisa Hedges,
Last Updated: February 13, 2018
For small medical labs, human error, slow turnaround time of test results and a lack of needed chemicals or instruments are surefire ways to lose out on repeat business. Medical lab software can help you overcome these challenges.
Many electronic health records (EHR) and practice management software providers integrate medical lab management software with their systems to enable a smooth flow of information between labs, patients and medical practices. These systems function as a central database for lab results and inventory reports.
In this buyer's guide, we'll look at what medical lab software offers and the benefits of using it. We'll also look at considerations for specific types of users and some trends prospective buyers need to know about.
Here's what we'll cover:
What Is Medical Lab Software?
Medical lab software enables medical practices, clinics and independent labs to manage daily operations of the lab. These systems reduce the staff workloads significantly by offering inventory management capabilities for chemicals, lab instruments and equipment, securely transferring data to and from other systems (such as EHR software) and reducing errors in test results.
Medical lab software can also be integrated with billing and patient portal applications.
Common Features of Medical Lab Software
Medical lab software vendors offer a variety of functional breadth and depth in their systems. Here are some of the most common capabilities you'll find:
|Data search||Saves time when searching for patient test results and checking availability of inventory items such as test tubes, chemicals, syringes etc.|
|Data storage||Securely stores data related to all aspects of the medical lab, eliminating the need for physical filing systems and reducing the chance of losing test reports.|
|Data exchange interface||Central database for storing data. Provides instant transfer of data to and from other medical systems used by different medical staff.|
|Inventory management||Enables lab staff to monitor and manage the quantity and availability of various lab items and also track their locations and expiry dates.|
|Order requests||Most medical lab software integrates with purchasing systems to track and process purchase orders through a single central interface. This feature does not necessarily replace an order management system, nor does it change any existing purchasing processes, it only works in collaboration with these tools.|
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Your unique business situation will help you determine what type of medical lab software and specific features you should look for. Most medical lab software buyers will fall into one of these categories:
Small independent medical labs. They are likely looking to deploy medical lab software in an effort to grow their customer base. Their primary requirement is to automate the process of data storage and inventory management, so as to deliver faster results to existing customers and focus on acquiring new customers.
Growing small medical practices. These practices are on the verge of upgrading basic systems, such as EHRs and practice management solutions to more robust medical systems that support additional functions. Growing practices upgrade their systems for a range of reasons such as faster data transfer and automated management of lab inventory.
Large practices, clinics and hospitals. These buyers need the functionality of a full electronic health records (EHR) suite that includes medical lab management functionality. For these buyers, seamless integration is usually more important than specific or niche features.
Specialty buyers. These buyers are focused on specific features that suit their specialty. For example, specialty-specific clinical laboratories, life sciences companies and medical pathology labs require systems that offer a database of common terms used in their lab tests that are specific to their specialty. For such buyers these niche functionalities are often more important than out-of-box integrations.
Benefits of Medical Lab Software
We've covered some of the benefits of medical lab software throughout this discussion, but here are some of the specific ways this software will improve your lab operations:
Faster data transfer. The centralized database offers quick and easy data transfer to and from other medical systems (such as EHRs, patient portals etc.), for faster searching of patient profiles and medical histories required for lab tests, resulting in more efficient operations overall.
Adequate stock at all times. As the software can be integrated with your purchasing software, staff can efficiently manage the availability of all inventory. This helps you ensure you always have sufficient stock (chemicals, test tubes, syringes, pipettes etc.) on hand.
Quick and error-free billing. With software, test report generation and printing can be done in seconds, as data is stored digitally. It also reduces the chances of billing errors, since the software is linked to the billing system. In addition, the solution enables medical practices and labs to monitor their revenue and expenses for administrative purposes.
Better patient experience. The efficient and quick generation of medical reports, along with improved accuracy, results in a better patient experience, which in turn results in an improved loyalty rate.
Market Trends to Understand
As you begin your search for medical lab software, you should be aware of the following trends:
- Smooth integration with EHRs and practice management solutions. Most electronic health records (EHRs) and practice management solutions integrate with medical lab management systems, which encourages smooth and secure sharing and transferring of data.
- Preference for cloud-based software. Many buyers, especially from smaller operations, prefer medical lab software that operates in the cloud, as they require minimal hardware and lower upfront costs—sometimes no cost. For example, medical lab platform Quartzy is available for free.
Here are some important factors to think about before you implement medical lab software:
- System integration. Though most medical lab management platforms integrate readily with modern EHR and practice management solutions, you should check with the vendor beforehand whether the platform integrates with your existing technology or not. Proper integration makes it easy to migrate your existing databases and Excel files, transfer data efficiently, resulting in easy sharing of information.
- Cloud-based or on-premise deployment. As a buyer, you must be clear on your deployment preference and check with the vendor beforehand regarding the options they offer. A majority of medical lab software is delivered in the cloud and hosted on third-party servers. These systems are suitable for labs and practices with smaller budgets and fewer IT resources. However, some vendors offer on-premise medical lab solutions that are designed specifically for clinical laboratories and practices that can maintain their own software environment.
- HIPAA compliance. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) mandates the protection of patient records against unauthorized access. You must safeguard the privacy and security of your patients' data while also remaining compliant, so be sure to ask potential vendors about how they can help you achieve this.
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