Installing a new LIS is an exciting, yet stressful, undertaking. Every step of your laboratory’s workflow is impacted. It is wise to carefully think through all the implementation steps and make sure you are properly prepared before a new LIS installation. Whether replacing your LIS or getting one for the first time, there will be a period of disruption in your laboratory. Proper planning and preparation can lessen the stress associated with change.
Prepare Staff for Change
When the leadership team provides clear and effective support and sets realistic expectations, including proper direction and resources, the laboratory is more likely to be successful in new endeavors. When the team spirit includes tolerance for mistakes and support for one another, change is more easily accepted. Adopt a culture of change readiness.
Share All Relevant Organizational & Workflow Information
During the LIS sales process, be sure you share all relevant information about how your laboratory is set up and its relationships with other healthcare organizations and labs. Some of this information will include:
- your facility type (number of beds and specialties, if relevant)
- laboratory departments and associated systems you are interested in
- current LIS, EHR, and billing systems
- testing types and volumes
- current analyzers and manual testing
- number and titles of staff
- specific features, custom reports, and setup that you desire
Think About Hardware, Network, & Other Questions
Consider hardware, network, and overall space and facility preparation. Will you be purchasing new hardware for your LIS? How many workstations will you require? Be prepared to discuss servers, workstations, IP addresses, label printers, and bar code scanners. In addition, it is recommended that you have both a test and a live production environment. The test environment will require separate hardware.
Your LIS vendor should know that every laboratory is different, and therefore every LIS implementation will be different. As such, the installation process should be customized to fit your specific needs, while still following a plan of action. The LIS vendor should have a dedicated project manager, and it is helpful for your laboratory to also have personnel dedicated to the installation.
Think Through Your Basic LIS Setup
Be sure to think through every step of sample processing, testing, and reporting and consider all the data that needs to be set up in your new database. For example, this information will include:
- lab test names, abbreviations, and units of measure
- linearity ranges, number of decimals to report, host codes, LOINC, calculations
- order choices (groups of lab tests that the provider can order) and CPT codes
- for in-house and for send-outs
- reference ranges, critical values, age-specific and gender-specific ranges
- personnel (e.g., providers, technologists, phlebotomists, and order entry staff)
- locations that you receive orders from or deliver results to
- containers and tube sizes used for specimen collection
- sample types (e.g., serum, plasma, urine, and spinal fluid)
- sample storage temperatures and locations
- analyzer information
- QC information for each test
The importance of training cannot be overstated. Look into all training opportunities your LIS vendor offers and take advantage of as many as possible (off-site, on-site, web-based, remote learning, etc.). Your vendor may use a “train the trainer” program that allows key personnel to be trained thoroughly so that they can train additional current and future staff members. The more knowledgeable and comfortable laboratory staff is with the new LIS, the easier the transition will be.
System Verification & Final Validation
Verification is a shared responsibility between vendor and client. The vendor should ensure that the application is properly set up and configured to the project specifications, and the laboratory is responsible for confirming the accuracy of individual data elements, such as order choices, lab tests, fax numbers, and personnel information.
During the validation stage, the laboratory users verify all settings are configured correctly and that the software is working as expected. Any final workflow or database setup
changes are made at this time. Validation and training are the final steps before system go-live.
With proper planning, clear expectations, and the best vendor fit for your laboratory, an LIS installation will go smoothly. The result is a validated and highly effective software tool to support your laboratory’s role in patient care.
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