Sharing Is Caring : Informatics Experts ColLABorate on LIMS
By Sam Abrams , senior specialist , Informatics and Rachel Shepherd , specialist , Informatics
A laboratory information management system ( LIMS ) is the beating heart of a laboratory . It is integral to how a laboratory communicates and receives information , connects its various instruments , manages accessioning and workflows , and , in some cases , inventory and billing . With the unprecedented volume of data that came along with the COVID-19 pandemic , the need for LIMS enhancements and changes in capabilities soon followed . Long delayed upgrades were suddenly urgent , and , with a surge in funding , many laboratories sought to change systems altogether .
For months , APHL fielded calls from members asking to be connected to any laboratory using System X , Y , or Z and hoped that fellow informaticians would be willing to provide guidance and illuminate pros and cons . It soon became clear that people needed a place to connect with other laboratories using the same systems in order to address common challenges and work towards system-specific solutions . To meet this need , APHL launched a handful of system-specific user-group spaces on ColLABorate to help laboratorians identify and address cross-cutting concerns among their peers .
APHL currently hosts ColLABorate spaces for public health laboratory informatics specialists to discuss issues impacting their LIMS and other data systems . One is dedicated to STARLIMS users , the most widely used LIMS among state public health laboratories , tackling issues such as implementing upgrades to specific tests and their potential impact on reporting . In addition to ad hoc needs addressed in ColLABorate , the group meets monthly to discuss a range of topics such as the impact of electronic test order and results ( ETOR ) on their informatics workflows . The group also engages with industry peers on emerging issues and opportunities , having recently hosted the US Food and Drug Administration to present on the National Food Safety Data Exchange Services Platform and engaging member
In addition to the LIMS user group spaces , APHL has also launched a public health laboratory informatics community space for members to engage in discussions , pose questions , seek and provide guidance , explore resources and keep abreast of other engagement opportunities such as the Interoperability Forum , informatics related events and other ongoing initiatives . E-mail Rachel Shepherd to join the group ( rachel . shepherd @ aphl . org )
laboratories on how their participation can help grow the platform .
Recently , a new space launched to support members who use Horizon LIMS in their laboratory . Similar to the STARLIMS group , this space allows members to connect on strategies with utilizing Horizon and to address upcoming testing needs that may need to be integrated into the platform . It also serves as a repository for resources such as guidance documents and other support .
26 LAB MATTERS Spring 2023