This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.


Obscured by the hype of the cloud, laboratory informatics is changing quietly and profoundly. This review of the vendor profiles published over the course of this year highlights the drive to add value and to find new areas of application


n laboratory informatics, as in computing more generally, the hot topic of the year has been ‘the cloud’.

Several companies are now offering ‘software as a service’ – laboratory informatics over the cloud. Usually, these appear to be smaller, start-up companies, such as Core Informatics and GoInformatics, although several of the larger, longer-established informatics vendors are also now claiming to offer a cloud option. It remains to be seen how quickly the newcomers will grow and whether the cloud will indeed become a ‘disruptive technology’ in laboratory informatics. But more profound, though less visible,

is a longer-term development in laboratory informatics whereby more and more functionality has been integrated with the original software to add value to the system. Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) were created to meet the need to track samples as they moved round the laboratory, and to correlate each test result correctly with the sample being tested. But now vendors

10 |

are trying to enhance the value of what they provide to their customers by linking together every activity in the laboratory – from sample submission to laboratory execution methods, results review, software integration, laboratory inventories, stability testing, cheminformatics and bioinformatics through to data analysis. Ultimately the goal is also to link the laboratory’s software suite to the IT that underpins wider business operations within the company or organisation. The result of this added functionality has

been a gradual extension of the ‘evolutionary niche’ that laboratory informatics can occupy into other areas, such as clinical and healthcare informatics – a move adopted by Abbott Informatics (formerly Starlims). Applications include not just pathology laboratories and biobanking, but even the management of mortuaries or of veterinary laboratories. Informatics suites are now finding applications in managing clinical trials and at least one – from Autoscribe – in very unconventional environments, such as running lotteries.

The route that different companies have

taken to realise this strategy of expanding their ‘offering’ has been dictated by their size and the economic resources they can command. IDBS for example, has opted to form partnerships with other vendors, such as ACD/Labs, whereas the multinational corporation that is Waters is building its NuGenesis suite itself. Even Waters has had to go outside to obtain the relevant expertise but, in this case by buying rather than forming partnerships with other companies. Whatever the method by which informatics

software is delivered to the end-user nowadays, it is clear that the whole field has moved a long way from sample-tracking.

WILL THE CLOUD BE A DISRUPTIVE TECHNOLOGY? Among the (relative) newcomers offering cloud-based technologies are Core Informatics and GoInformatics. Core Informatics recently launched an online app store, with around 40 preconfigured applications for specific functionalities, open to subscribers of the firm’s

Science Photo/

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44