Author: Chloé Stamenkovic
Today, many businesses and industries are quickly moving to digital-driven approaches to manage and process data to support business vitality. Yet, the lab industry is still taking measured steps to join the digitalization wave, as it is a complex task even for data-expert scientists who handle data daily.
What is the Digitalization of Laboratories?
Digitalization of laboratories refers to converting manual data (paper-based, for example) to digital data using digital services to improve quality control, establish consistent workflows, and enhance lab efficiency.
How to Digitalize Your Laboratory?
We will go through seven steps to start digitalizing your lab if you need help figuring out where to start.
Analyze Your Process
Understand your current data procedures and search for redundancies or errors in data flows. Redundancies might include manual data verification, which can be eliminated in an integrated data system, while errors might result from manual data collecting or reporting.
Acknowledging such deficiencies in your work process will contribute to defining the priorities and goals of the intended digitalization process.
Determine What You Need to Digitalize
Where do you currently store or process data, and where and when do you plan to convert that data?
Follow a systematic approach such as SMART to set goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound) and determine your framework. For instance, your SMART goal could be to move manual data from lab instruments to a data management system within X months/years.
Make a Detailed List of Solutions
Research and discover industry-specific solutions that correspond best to your organization’s needs, and find the tools or software to correctly implement the digitalization process.
For example, you might require consultants to guide you throughout the process or programmers to design a certain data platform, application, or cloud-based ELN software for creating, storing, and processing data.
Develop a Digital Culture Within Your Business
Remember that digitalization involves not only infrastructure but also a transformation in the organization’s culture. Digitalization is only possible by reaching a mutual understanding and engaging concerned parties in the process.
Form an action team, work on a collective strategy and provide your team members with the tools to effectively achieve deliverables.
Implement the Action Strategy & Include a Test Run
Carry out the action strategy step-by-step and as agreed among your team members. Start small and develop processes depending on the viability of the previously implemented steps.
Move from one department or division to the next and provide staff with training on the technology, if needed, before moving to the next step.
Verify the Effectiveness of the Implementations
To better understand the status of the digitalization process in your organization, employ certain metrics, such as KPIs or Key Performance Indicators, which indicate the performance level in each department.
Analyze and build on each step of the action strategy’s success by tracking the process’s effectiveness in every department.
Assess the Realization
Conduct in-depth assessments once the digitalization process is concluded to track the changes in your organization’s work and survey the realization of the project within the specified timeline and budget.
For example, a short-term assessment provides an overview of the process’ achievements compared to the goals. In contrast, a long-term assessment indicates current and future performance, improving the provided service quality and visibility.
Challenges When Creating a Digitalized Laboratory
Digitalizing research data can expose sensitive or confidential information to unauthorized misuse or cyber-attacks since it is internet-based.
Consequently, avoiding bad cyber security practices is essential to building a cyber security lab and preventing data breaches or potential malicious digital activities.
According to a panel discussion conducted by Pharma IQ, a pharmaceutical community, 70% of current research cannot be reproduced due to the lack of original research data.
The lack of proper laboratory management software or tools results in poor data management leading to devalued or lost findings.
Digitalizing lab data is not only complex but can also be quite expensive, depending on the scale of your organization. Therefore, start with a financial evaluation and make decisions based on your financial capacity.
Evaluate the validity of the process for your organization and determine the objectives you plan to achieve.
Data digitalization has replaced the need for paper-based data in several industries. Despite the challenges in the lab industry, this process can eliminate human errors and create a comprehensive metadata system that maintains the experiments’ integrity and improves the value of research findings.
BIO: Chloe Stamenkovic is a life science research analyst collaborating with Reader’s Digest, eLabNext, Dataversity & others. Having strong molecular biology, analytical & data science modeling skills she manages project initiatives to elevate the knowledge in technology solutions for laboratories, in order to increase efficiency in the lab. She focused on all topics regarding biotech but most recently specializing in topics such as digital health, lab digitization, ELN/LIMS, AI, Machine Learning, and automation’s role in developing novel therapeutics.