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The purpose of an LIS?

Laboratory Information System

The questions to ask regarding a laboratory information system are: What is the purpose of an LIS? What does it do? (These questions can be put together as “Why bother?”)

What is the purpose of an LIS? Why do you want one? If you’re asking this question, you probably feel the presence of a computer in the laboratory is an intrusion rather than an asset. When cells were counted on a hemocytometer and glucoses were boiled in a pot over a Bunsen burner, doctors made rare use of the lab, and there was time for a technologist to write results on a slip by hand. Now, massive numbers of laboratory tests are an integral part of every diagnosis and routine health check, and we find ourselves processing data rather than finding out what Mrs. Aldridge’s glucose is running today.

As physicians have increased their laboratory utilization, and modern instruments have grown faster and more versatile, the bottleneck in the lab has become taking the information from the various sources and producing a single coherent report showing the patient’s condition. This is where an LIS can prove its worth. With instruments directly online to the computer system, transcription error is reduced to virtually zero. Patient records are maintained in a permanent computer file. QC can be monitored automatically. And the physician receives a single report with patient values and normal ranges.

The purpose of the laboratory information system, then, is to render coherent the stream of data arriving from the various instruments and bench procedures, and free the technologist for matters demanding human judgment and discretion.

As with any new industry, computers have progressed through several stages in their development. The early lab systems, some of which are still in use, were expensive and cumbersome to work with. In the decade since the advent of the computer to the home market, the industry has evolved from a discipline intelligible to a select few, to programs that children can use to do their homework. Unfortunately, the medical market lagged behind in this process.

In 1994 SchuyLab was designed by a medical technologist/computer programmer team to bridge this technological gap. The graphic interface, now standard in home use and word processing systems, is state-ofthe- art in computer software. The PC and PC network are the most powerful and adaptable hardware setups available. It is this hardware/software system, combined with extensive experience in both the computer and medical laboratory fields that Schuyler House places at your disposal with the SchuyLab Laboratory System.

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