Near the top of many clinical laboratories’ wish list is a robust analytics solution that supports day-to-day operations including staffing and workflow optimization, enables outreach and reference laboratory business support, and improves the healthcare enterprise.

With no shortage of vendors offering different analytics platforms that meet these needs, clinical labs easily could bog down while wading through this sea of possibilities. Have no fear, because in the session, "Total Laboratory Automation Analytics Solutions – Friend or Foe?” on Thursday, December 17 at 11:00 am Central, David McClintock, MD, and Edward Leung, PhD, provide practical guidance for labs to identify the best information technology resource for their own circumstances.

Envision the following scenario: Lured by the promise of a significant return on investment by installing a total laboratory automation system in your clinical laboratory, the vice president of laboratory operations for your institution tasks you with identifying the best analytics solution for the laboratory. What would be your first step?

Attending the AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo would be a great start, but how would you separate the wheat from the chaff after visiting vendors’ booths? Leung has been in your shoes.

“For the past couple of years that I’ve attended the vendor booths during the Clinical Lab Expo, every single vendor is coming up with more and more analytics solutions,” Leung says. “[Laboratory information system] (LIS) vendors also have their own packages that they are trying to sell. If you’re not really well versed in the analytics and also in what the laboratory automation system can do, it can be difficult to navigate.”

These experiences motivated Leung to create this scientific session. He and McClintock will present vendor-neutral information, while focusing on the applications of clinical laboratory analytics (Leung) and providing insights into the fundamental organizational structure of these analytics (McClintock). In this way, attendees will be empowered to make educated decisions when evaluating various analytics platforms in the increasingly crowded market of information technology resources for clinical laboratories.

Knowledge is certainly power, and an essential first step in gaining that knowledge is asking the right questions. To help session attendees know which questions to ask when evaluating clinical laboratory analytics solutions, Leung sheds light on commonly hidden informatics issues including limitations on the type of data that can be transmitted to and extracted from the electronic medical record (EMR) and LIS, cybersecurity concerns, integrating different software and databases, and the ongoing maintenance required following initial installation and rule-building associated with an analytics solution. Even for information technology professionals these issues often involve a steep learning curve, so learning about them before they manifest can be quite valuable.

Of course, just one diagnostic company likely will not be able to provide a comprehensive analytics solution for any clinical laboratory. Each system has its own strengths and weaknesses. The task facing laboratory professionals seeking analytics solutions is knowing which challenges to anticipate so as to set reasonable expectations and allocate appropriate resources to overcome these hurdles.

After this session, attendees will be well-equipped with the tools to ascertain whether any given analytics solution would be a friend or a foe for their clinical laboratory.