In order to move medical research forward to cure diseases, it is critically important to have decent tissue samples. This has been a problem for a number of laboratories that handle medical research on things such as cancer. One survey of 700 researchers showed that nearly 47% found it difficult to find biobank laboratory samples that were of the quality they needed. The need for laboratory sample management software could not be more evident.
The problems finding quality samples is not due to the number available. In the United States, there were more than 300 million in 2000. Currently, 20 million new tissue samples are produced each year, which further exacerbates the need to a good laboratory sample management software system. Sample management needs to be a priority.
Until the late 1970s, lab sample tracking was done manually. There weren’t as many samples so sample management was more simple but the manual method caused many mistakes. In the 1980s Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) were developed and the project received support from the federal government. To date, it remains the largest funding source for 36% of biobanks. Nearly 57% have received some funding from the federal government.
LIMS is a constantly evolving system. As the needs of researchers change and the technology develops, what services can be provided this was has changed. Now most sample tracking software is web-enabled, something that was not even available when the original software was developed.
A good sample management system now gives laboratories a way to monitor a sample as it is tested on. Each sample receives a number from the laboratory sample management software and that number is used at each step where the sample is used, giving staff the ability to find it at any stage. The samples can be tracked by client so that reports on their progress can be produced often and very recent data.
In terms of time management, laboratories can see how much time they are spending on each sample and make any necessary changes to the way they are doing things. By tracking the samples, laboratories can also find any problems as they occur. They can address those issues right away and they become more productive as a result.
Diseases such as cancer remain public health threats. It has been estimated that nearly 1.7 million cases of cancer will be diagnosed in 2015. In 2015, there were about 14.5 million cancer survivors. By streamlining laboratory processes, cancer researchers can be more effective at their jobs.