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Exciting Times for Laboratory Information Systems in the Era of the Electronic Medical Records


The mission and goals of hospital laboratories are changing rapidly with greater emphasis on activities such as point-of-care testing and outreach testing, working in tandem with other automated systems in the hospital. Across Europe, almost half of the hospitals have a dedicated laboratory system. Vendors have therefore seen this as an opportunity to persuade hospitals of the benefits of an integrated hospital-wide system using the laboratory information system (LIS) as a selling tool.

Frost & Sullivan finds that the European Laboratory Information Systems Market earned revenues of $153.7 million in 2005 and estimates this to reach $218.1 million in 2012.

"For many hospitals, the changes in LIS are related to a drive to connect together various hospital departments and departmental software," explains Frost & Sullivan Industry Analyst Konstantinos Nikolopoulos. "Clinicians want to be able to enter data into electronic records and they want to both import and export data from electronic medical records (EMR) and hospital information systems (HIS) to LIS and vice-versa."

The need for connectivity and increased data sharing is one of the most significant factors encouraging laboratories to examine their LIS policy. Some hospitals are in possession of legacy systems and other obsolete LIS that do not provide much flexibility and interconnectivity and therefore require complete replacement.

However, the classic LIS, designed as a multi-functional system to support hospital laboratory activities with emphasis on work and specimen flow for hospital inpatients and outpatients, has been dominant in the clinical laboratories for more than three decades. This has led to 90 to 95 per cent market penetration levels for LIS software. The early technology vendors that implemented legacy LIS still have a strong hold on laboratories that have no money to make expensive out-right LIS replacements.

"Old relationships are thus valued and new entrants find it extremely difficult to penetrate the market," notes Mr. Nikolopoulos. "This has led some cash rich vendors to try the acquisitions route to gain control over potential customer groups."

Past trends have indicated that customers do not switch over to new vendors very easily either due to financial considerations or simply to avoid the process of implementing new systems.

"Market participants will need to show increased visibility in such a competitive environment," advises Mr. Nikolopoulos. "Attendance and participation in trade shows and other industry-wide events can build company awareness, while the ability to highlight product capabilities and features in test/pilot sites can be an additional step in the same direction."

Source: Frost & Sullivan