In the Age of Clinical Genomics Why Are Most LIMS Stuck in 1999?

by Michael Ball on February 18, 2014 in Genomics
Old computers lining wall

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to a crowd at the Personalized Medicine World Conference (PMWC) in Mountain View, CA. The conference was well attended by clinical diagnostic labs, and much to my delight, I spoke to a room full of people.

I spoke about how we are entering an era in which next generation sequencing in diagnostics and genomic testing is becoming commonplace because there have been many advances with the technology and instrumentation. Sequencing systems are now generating faster and less costly results for patients than ever before. While these advances have received a lot of press, I also spoke about something that hasn’t been discussed, and that’s how many of the various systems, software, and LIMS that support sequencing technologies have not kept pace.

Why do LIMS lag behind, in both usability and functionality, offering sequencing labs no compelling reason to invest?

I know why—it’s because there are a multitude of challenges that these LIMS and other systems need to address. For starters, these systems need to:

These challenges make one onerous proposition, but not a very good excuse.

LIMs data is securely stored in the clous

The cloud enables clinicians to securely store massive amounts of data and forego the cost and time associated with onsite installations.

How have other industries evolved?

Meanwhile, in just about every other industry, there have been remarkable advances—shining examples of how other makers of software and hardware have innovated to stay current. The cloud is but one of these examples, enabling users of powerful software to store massive amounts of data and forego the cost and time associated with onsite installations. The cloud has also made possible more secure data handling. And for clinicians, this is monumental. Did you know that most breaches in security happen when patient data are stored on individual machines that are hacked or stolen? And speaking of data, they are ubiquitous, and people are looking at them in all different ways: via mobile, iPad, desktop, YouTube, you name it. Cloud, mobile, and other innovations have become mainstream because they have been designed intuitively and enabled people to do things that weren’t possible before.

Did you know that most breaches in security happen when patient data are stored on individual machines that are hacked or stolen?

Other industries have made these breakthroughs, so again I must ask: why are LIMS stuck in 1999?

How did we innovate?

We took a good hard look at our LIMS offering a few years ago and asked the same question. We looked to innovations in other industries as our inspiration, along with important feedback from customers and contacts. And in 2012, we made a very conscious decision to not produce one of these antiquated LIMS.

Clarity-LIMS-ipad-mobile-friendly-real-time-status-reporting-dashboards

I am proud of the introspective work we have done to make our system as innovative as the sequencing work we support – Michael Ball, CEO, GenoLogics

How can we make our LIMS as intuitive as possible? How can we get rid of costly and time-consuming onsite installations? How can we ensure that data are safe? And how can we ensure that users can keep pace with technology and instrumentation changes and process patient samples quickly without sacrificing quality?

Answering these questions led us to the development of BaseSpace Clarity LIMS and Clarity Run Manager. We’ve transformed our solutions by:

I am proud of the introspective work we have done to make our system as innovative as the sequencing work we support. Did all of this introspection come at a cost that we need to pass on to customers? No. The cost of the system has been able to come down greatly because the system is far simpler to implement and support.

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