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5 Core Competencies of Molecular Lab Management

by Nabil Hafez | Apr 17, 2018 | Blog

Precision medicine offers significant opportunities to improve the health of patients. Increasing the accessibility of precision medicine has motivated many laboratories to increase their molecular lab capabilities. As labs scale their capacity, they need to address some important challenges:

  • Handling the complexity of molecular testing while preventing expensive errors
  • Staying agile enough to adapt frequently to new developments in genetic knowledge and lab technology
  • Satisfying regulatory requirements, from lab certification to patient privacy

The Sunquest Mitogen™ LIMS is designed to enable labs to meet these challenges, with a solution tailored to molecular processes. Providing unique capabilities and abundant flexibility, the LIMS helps molecular labs excel at a set of core competencies critical to lab management.

1. Labs need to navigate the complexity of molecular workflows

When a lab begins to offer molecular testing and is processing small volumes, they may be able to manually track samples in the workflow. However, as testing volume grows, they quickly discover they cannot effectively scale such a complex process manually. The complexity of molecular testing also means labs are dramatically increasing the number of steps a technician must complete for an individual assay.

When a lab implements the Sunquest Mitogen LIMS, the protocols for the majority of assays a molecular lab needs come out of the box – but are also configurable to the lab’s specific process. A technician can login and follow each step one-by-one. Not only does this workflow help streamline and standardize testing, reducing the opportunity for errors, it also assures that every step of the process is automatically tracked.

About the author
Nabil Hafez Sr. Director Product Management and Marketing, Sunquest Mitogen
Nabil Hafez
Sr. Director Product Management and Marketing, Sunquest Mitogen

After cutting his teeth on the Human Genome Project, Nabil was hooked on genetics. Sixteen years later, his passion remains focused on enabling technologies to bring precision medicine to mainstream medicine.

2. Sample tracking is critical, an audit trail makes it easy

Sunquest Mitogen LIMS is purpose-built to ensure that when labs perform molecular testing, every step of the process is organized, tracked and clearly documented in a logical, accessible way. Where a typical LIMS might track individual steps, the Sunquest Mitogen LIMS accounts for how a sample moves through the lab. For example, a lab may receive a sample in a vial, then transfer it to one multi-well plate and then another, several times. Lineage-based tracking gives labs a powerful tool for tracking what happened to this sample. At the most detailed level, a path history showing the sample moving from container to container provides every available piece of information about that sample, including items such as technician, step, timestamp and container ID. Whether pinpointing a problem with a specific sample or preparing for a CAP or CLIA audit, the sample history makes this data available to labs without any effort beyond performing their assays in their usual manner.

Sample Tracking

3. Role-based work queues maximize personnel efficiency

Managing your lab technician’s day-to-day work queue can be a challenge. Sunquest Mitogen LIMS provides different views of the system depending on the user’s role and access level. This way, lab personnel can login to the system and view the assays and components of the laboratory process they are responsible for work tasks specifically assigned to them. For example, technicians responsible for accessioning and receiving can see the samples that they need to process for the day. Further, lab directors responsible for signing out reports can see their work queue for the lab assays they need to review.

Mitogen Mitogen Core LIMS

4. Instantly find samples and proactively manage laboratory inventory

Tracking samples doesn’t end after the report is sent. Often labs are required to store samples for anywhere from one month to a year, or even indefinitely. Finding an archived sample when a provider wants to retest can be a laborious process. When samples are barcoded, Sunquest Mitogen LIMS creates a visual storage system that allows users to drill down by level: from room, to refrigerator, to shelf, to rack, to box, to pinpoint the specific location immediately.

The auto-decrementing capability of the Sunquest Mitogen LIMS is a powerful tool for streamlining inventory management. Any consumable resource, such as reagents or containers, can be tracked and its quantity automatically adjusted whenever the relevant procedure is performed. Laboratories can use this tool flexibly to create automatic action items, like creating a purchase order or work list or, when appropriate, integrating with other vendors to automatically reorder inventory items at a predetermined threshold. In some cases, labs might prefer to send an alert or establish cost thresholds for the users required to authorize a purchase.

5. Improve key performance metrics through active monitoring

Your lab is a healthcare facility, but it is also a business. Providing accessible molecular testing depends upon ensuring the efficiency of your operations. Visualizing how work is flowing through the lab—how many samples are in accessioning, how many in receiving, and so on—allows a lab to identify potential bottlenecks and where interventions might need to happen to keep samples flowing through the laboratory.

Insight into performance metrics, such as turnaround time (TAT), is crucial for a laboratory trying to improve efficiency. All the data flowing into Sunquest Mitogen LIMS becomes usable information through analytics dashboards for lab managers to support performance improvements and data-driven decisions.

Mitogen Dashboard

Configuration and integration

No two labs are identical. Sunquest Mitogen LIMS is built with this in mind and allows for protocols to be configured to the specific needs of any lab. Lab management dashboards can highlight the specific operational analytics most important to understanding your organization. Workflows can be configured to fit current protocols and can be updated again as required. Sunquest Mitogen LIMS is built with the latest web technologies and can integrate with LIS, EMRs, instruments and other lab software—those currently in use, and those added later. We are instrument agnostic, which means the lab doesn’t need to change to fit the solution: the LIMS is designed as a flexible solution to fit individual labs, regardless of the instrumentation.

Learn more

Positioning your lab, through the use of intelligent tools, to excel at these core competencies frees both technicians and lab managers to focus on the work that brings in revenue and helps patients. To learn more, and see more of the LIMS in action, please watch our webinar, Sunquest Mitogen™ LIMS: Platform for Molecular Labs.

About the author
Nabil Hafez Sr. Director Product Management and Marketing, Sunquest Mitogen
Nabil Hafez
Director of Product Marketing, Precision Medicine

After cutting his teeth on the Human Genome Project, Nabil was hooked on genetics. Sixteen years later, his passion remains focused on enabling technologies to bring precision medicine to mainstream medicine.

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