eLaboratory is an evolving concept, with new features and functionality being added often. As Laboratory demands change and technological progress continues, the functions of an eLaboratory will likely also change. Despite these changes, an eLaboratory tends to have a base set of functionality that defines it. That functionality can roughly be divided into five Laboratory processing phases, with numerous eLaboratory software functions falling under each:
There are several pieces of core functionality associated with these Laboratory processing phases that tend to appear in e Laboratory:
A lab worker matches blood samples to documents. With an e Laboratory, this sort of sample management is made more efficient.
The core function of eLaboratory has traditionally been the management of samples. This typically is initiated when a sample is received in the Laboratory, at which point the sample will be registered in the eLaboratory. The processing could then include a step where the sample container is registered and sent to the customer for the sample to be taken and then returned to the lab. The registration process may involve the sample and producing to affix to the sample container. Various other parameters such as clinical or information corresponding with the sample are also often recorded. The eLaboratory system then tracks chain of custody as well as sample location. Location tracking usually involves assigning the sample to a particular freezer location, often down to the granular level of shelf, rack, box, row, and column.
eLaboratory offer an increasing amount of integration with lab instruments and applications. An e Laboratory may create control files that are "fed" into the instrument and direct its operation on some physical item such as a sample tube or sample plate. The eLaboratory may then import instrument results files to extract data for quality control assessment of the operation on the sample. Access to the instrument data can sometimes be regulated based on chain of custody assignments or other security features if need be.
Aside from the key functions of sample management, instrument and application integration, and electronic data exchange, there are numerous additional operations that can be managed in a eLaboratory. This includes but is not limited to
Fully track and maintain an audit trail
Assign one or more data points to a barcode format; read and extract information from a barcode
Assign roles and groups that dictate access to specific data records and who is managing them
Follow regulatory standards that affect the eLaboratory
Handle the demographic information and communications for associated clients
Process and convert data to certain formats; manage how documents are distributed and accessed
Schedule important maintenance and calibration of lab instruments and keep detailed records of such activities
Measure and record inventories of vital supplies and ELABORATORY equipment
Provide fast and reliable interfaces for data to be entered by a human or electronic component
Provide one location for all ELABORATORY process and procedure (P&P) and methodology to be housed and managed as well as connecting each sample handling step with current instructions for performing the operation
Organize work schedules, workload assignments, employee demographic information, training, and financial information
Gauge and control sample quality, data entry standards, and workflow
Create and schedule reports in a specific format; schedule and distribute reports to designated parties
Calculate and maintain processing and handling times on chemical reactions, workflows, and more
show audit trail and/or chain of custody of a sample
Track a sample, a batch of samples, or batches through its lifecycle