Laboratory Information System (LIS)
A laboratory information management system (LIMS) or laboratory information system (LIS) or laboratory management system (LMS), is a software-based laboratory and information management system with features that support a modern laboratory’s operations. Key features include workflow and data tracking support, flexible architecture, and data exchange interfaces. The features and uses of a LIMS have evolved over the years from simple sample tracking to an enterprise resource planning tool that manages multiple aspects of laboratory informatics.
The definition of a LIMS is somewhat controversial: LIMSs are dynamic because the laboratory’s requirements are rapidly evolving and different labs often have different needs. Therefore, a working definition of a LIMS ultimately depends on the interpretation by the individuals or groups involved. Dr. Alan McLelland of the Institute of Biochemistry, Royal Infirmary, Glasgow highlighted this problem in the late 1990s by explaining how a LIMS is perceived by an analyst, a laboratory manager, an information systems manager, and an accountant, “all of them correct, but each of them limited by the users’ own perceptions.”
Historically the LIMS, LIS, and process development execution system (PDES) have all performed similar functions. The term “LIMS” has tended to refer to informatics systems targeted for environmental, research, or commercial analysis such as pharmaceutical or petrochemical work. “LIS” has tended to refer to laboratory informatics systems in the forensics and clinical markets, which often required special case management tools. “PDES” has generally applied to a wider scope, including, for example, virtual manufacturing techniques, while not necessarily integrating with laboratory equipment.
In recent times LIMS functionality has spread even farther beyond its original purpose of sample management. Assay data management, data mining, data analysis, and electronic laboratory notebook (ELN) integration have been added to many LIMS, enabling the realization of translational medicine completely within a single software solution. Additionally, the distinction between LIMS and LIS has blurred, as many LIMS now also fully support comprehensive case-centric clinical data.