LIS vs LIMS : What Are The Key Difference Between The Two Systems?


Key Takeaways

  • The LIS and LIMS have become so intertwined that it is difficult to differentiate between the two, although the primary objective of both systems’ development has remained the same.
  • Despite the fact that LIS and LIMS often focus on distinct things and are used in different ways, they are nonetheless frequently discussed together because the majority of their features are identical. The handling of samples and tests is the primary focus of both of these systems. The most important factor in determining which workflow a laboratory needs is whether it is sample or patient centered.
  • In light of this, the question arises: Will there eventually be LIS/LIMS hybrid systems? Lab managers are increasingly requesting that informatics vendors develop hybrid systems in order to accommodate the growing demand for workflows that are focused on both patients and samples.

If you’re looking for lab software, you’ve definitely run into these two software programs, Laboratory Information System (LIS) and Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS), a few times. LIS and LIMS systems are widely used interchangeably in healthcare laboratory informatics, leading some people to believe they are the same thing.

It may appear to be a logical conclusion, but it’s not entirely accurate. To compare these two systems would be like comparing Star Wars with Star Trek. Although there are some crossover features, their respective foci are different.

Now let’s explain what LIS and LIMS are before we get off topic with a debate over the Millennium Falcon against the Starship Enterprise.

What is LIS?

LIS systems were created to report on the test results from individual patient samples and are mostly used in the healthcare sector. The workflows place a strong emphasis on efficiency and are very single-sample oriented. The major objective of the LIS is to shorten the time between the request for a test and the transmission of the result report for a doctor to review. Information security and HIPAA compliance are essential since LIS systems are highly patient-focused and manage patient records that include name, ethnicity, contact information, previous test results,  and more.

Features and functionalities of LIS:

  • Gathering patient demographic information
  • Monitoring the patient samples
  • Combining clinical analysis
  • Keeping and reviewing the history of clinical diagnoses and treatments

What is a LIMS?

In contrast, LIMS systems are made to present quality findings from bounded sample sets in the manufacturing, cannabis, materials testing, and agricultural industries. Although some LIMS systems support both batch and single sample operations, the focus of these systems is typically on batched samples. A LIMS is frequently richer in features and services than its LIS counterpart since LIMSs place a strong emphasis on quality and managing different sample groups. Some of these more powerful options are utilized to uphold compliance with legal requirements, such as ISO 17025, GALP, EPA, FDA, and others, which are strictly observed in industry-focused labs.

Features and functionalities of LIMS:

  • Tracking individual samples and batches of samples
  • Workflow control to guarantee effective and strict adherence to lab procedures
  • Management of instrument calibration
  • Managing staff competencies
  • Checking and regulating quality
  • Including additional business system integrations, like ERP


The most typical location for a LIS, or laboratory information system, is a clinical laboratory. It enables clinical laboratories to report information about specific patients. A lab’s compliance with regulatory agencies including ISO, HIPAA, CAP, the FDA, the Joint Commission, and others is traditionally supported by a LIS.

Laboratory information management system is referred to as LIMS. Although the names of the two systems are sufficiently ambiguous to mask their differences, the key distinctions between them are the environments in which they are used and the degree of customization that can be applied to processes.

While a LIMS has been used for things like research and development, cannabis testing and forensic testing, a LIS is more frequently found in what we refer to as a clinical setting. However, over time, the lines between the two have become more hazy, and the industry now has a lot more overlap.

While these distinctions still hold true in many situations, we present them in historical terms because the development of some of the most popular solutions in use today has significantly converged the two.

For instance, customers in those industries will refer to the CGM LABDAQ Laboratory Information System as a LIMS since it is capable and adaptable enough to meet the chain of custody and reporting needs of forensic or cannabis testing laboratories.

CGM LABDAQ has cutting-edge software features including Workflow Management for molecular and cannabinoid testing, and Specimen Storage that enable it to suit the requirements of both a clinical and agricultural laboratory. A thorough report library and audit trail ensure that clients are able to adapt to the evolving legal obligations they confront with, for example, cannabis testing.

Similarities among lab management software

Because LIS and LIMS have traditionally shared more characteristics than they have differences, the names are often used interchangeably.

The similarities are:

  • Centralised processes
  • Tracking of samples or specimens
  • Records of chain of custody or an audit trail
  • Functional analysis and quality control
  • Data accessibility in real time
  • Software and analyzer integration

An LIS or LIMS should be equally able to interact with lab analyzers and third-party software, including programmes used in systems at state regulatory agencies, insurance companies and provider offices.

People will continue to use the terms interchangeably as top LIS and LIMS platforms converge and as the capabilities of advanced lab software grows.

Make sure the programe you’re contemplating can meet your demands today and grow with you in the future while setting up your new laboratory software.  There are so many firms that develop Custom laboratory management software If you are looking for a software solution for your lab.

Overlap & differences

1. Traditional use:

LIMS -Process that is based on samples; report information about batches of samples

LIS- centered on the patient; used to analyze and report data for specific patients in a therapeutic setting

2. Regulatory and accreditation bodies : 


  • FDA Title 21 CFR Part 11
  • ISO 17025
  • GLP


  • CLIA, The Joint Commission

3. Competitive niche

LIMS- Environments (batches and samples) centered on groups for anonymized research-specific laboratory data

LIS-  Clinical labs’ patient-centered environments (include participants and samples)

4. Laboratory types

LIMS- Research, environmental, or commercial analysis in laboratories for biology, manufacturing, metals, quality control,  food and beverage, petrochemical and water treatment.

LIS- Hospitals, toxicology and reference labs, pain clinics, public health, doctor’s offices; clinical labs; veterinary clinics, anatomic pathology, and other healthcare institutions.

5. Overlap:

LIMS- Adopting the kind of case-centric information management that is usually only used by LISs

LIS- Adopting specimen tracking and batch-testing features usually only available with a LIMS

6. Deployment:

Both the LIS and the LIMS are available as hosted or SaaS solutions.

Which one is most suitable for your laboratory?

As with the adoption of any new technology, everything comes down to intent. Consider these straightforward issues:

  • How do you deal with data?
  • Who needs to be able to see and understand it?
  • How can the audience (patients) benefit from the data?

While certain LISs can manage batch testing and specimen management, some LIMSs can manage patient data and clinical processes. In order to collect patient data for anatomic pathology, veterinary, or diagnostic testing, a LIS should be used. A LIMS is an obvious choice if you operate at a facility that manages large group-centric data sets.


To summarise, today’s LIMSs and LISs encroach on each other’s territory in order to gain more market space and meet the needs of a wider range of laboratory types. Their distinguishing characteristics and functionality overlap. Some LIMSs can manage patient data and diagnostic workflows, whereas some LISs can handle bulk testing and sample tracking. Choose a LIS if you manage patient-centric data in a hospital, veterinary, anatomic pathology, or clinical laboratory. If you work in a facility that handles large group-centric data sets, a LIMS is the obvious choice.