[gdlr_text_align class=”justify” ]Research approaches that utilize large scale clinical data gathering supplemented with the results from high throughput experiments have become the rising trend in the scientific community. This is possible due to the explosive development of laboratory and information technology. Specialists in the areas of scientific research are in need of IT tools that are able to manage data and processes relating to their projects. However, the truth is that research data management solutions available today do not exactly meet every researcher’s needs.
Choosing an ideal IT solution for your research project can be daunting, especially since you have to define your exact needs and gain some basic knowledge about the systems available in the market. For example, if you need a system for biobanking needs that manages biospecimen collection and storage, a LIMS or a BIMS system is ideal.
This article provides some basic information about the systems available today in the market that cater to scientific research. Whether you are a researcher, lab biologist or clinician, the information provided here can help you make an informed decision in choosing the right solution to meet your IT needs.
LIMS (Laboratory Information Management System): LIMS manages the execution of lab experiments on data samples and is able to track them through the process in an R&D laboratory. This software is able to show where a biosample comes from, where it has been, how it is stored and how to access it when necessary. LIMS can be the ideal solution for general biobank purposes. You can virtually store and manage your samples in the same manner and format as they are physically available in the storage facility.
BIMS (Biobank Information Management System): The BIMS is unable to import data from other systems, but users can search several different sources for data at the same time. The system does not contain any individual research data from samples, it merely is able to search different sources for specific data. However, the user can only search for data within sources that they have granted access to. Hence, the user has full control over which systems they can search through and which ones they cannot, making BIMS a useful research tool to use in combination with the LIMS. Click here for more information on LIMS and BIMS.
Note that neither the LIMS nor BIMS is intended for collecting clinical data and integrating it with experimental results. They are not useful in identifying biomarkers, data-analysis or discovery of new scientific knowledge.
CTMS (Clinical Trial Management System) and EDC (Electronic Data Capture): These systems are used to collect and manage large amounts of data involved with the workflow of a clinical trial. They are able to generate safety and efficiency data. Unlike the LIMS/BIMS, they do not support any laboratory processes that store data on biospecimens or experimental results. Probably the most common use of these systems are prospective research studies on human subjects that are designed to answer specific questions about the clinical application of a certain drug candidate. The main requirement on these systems include budgeting, patient management or compliance with government regulations. Lately, efforts are being made to integrate CTMS-EDC systems to promote system interfacing, where different software systems are able to connect with each other through adapting a ‘common language.’
HIS (Hospital Information System) is designed to manage hospital operations such as daily health services, administrative, financial, legal and corresponding service processing. The HIS has been designed for goals different from the management of scientific research projects. Therefore, if you intend to run a project to identify new diagnostics or therapeutic biomarkers, to assess the impact of biomedical or behavioral interventions, evaluate clinical outcome, or just to answer specific questions, the HIS will not be useful. The HIS is mainly useful for providing better patient care at hospitals through diagnosis and patient record-management.
The above mentioned systems show more or less overlaps, thus, making it hard to choose one system that corresponds to most of your needs. Background research, interaction with technical support and initial testing are some of the basic steps you can take to ensure that you have picked the right IT solution for you. Most of these systems are solutions that come with a heavy price tag that might be prohibitive for academic research groups. Launching a research project without picking a right software can cost you and your team a lot of time and money. Additionally, tweaking your software after you have inputted data into it might be harder than you think.
There is a growing demand for a research data management system that is cheap, secure and contains all the necessary functions required for the running of a scientific research project. Unfortunately, most systems developed in the recent years to address this need cannot be considered as professional solutions based on their appearance and/or usability. They do not satisfy the needs of their target groups and members of medical research project groups find it hard to utilize them. Developers rarely provide any product support and the money for further development is simply not available after the closure of the original development phase. As a result, most of these systems are not even used extensively within the particular institutions where they were developed.
After careful evaluation of this problem, our team developed the SmartBiobank. If you are looking to run a research project focusing on biomarker discovery, choosing a research data management software like the SmartBiobank can be the best solution. The SmartBiobank system combines the functionality of LIMS, EDC and HIS into one free, easy-to-use, secure system.
Want more information on SmartBiobank? Click here to contact our experienced bioinformatics team and we will be happy to assist you!