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BTW, as a point of full disclosure, my company, LabLynx is a LIMS vendor so I am probably biased towards a commercial system over a custom solution but truly… developing a lims requires some high power, high priced staff to build it and it is a significant undertaking to do from scratch.
We do pain/tox labs all the time and the most significant challenge for labs these days is insurance billing and getting paid from it. We have lots of experience in this area and with the physician portal and whole workflow side of drug screening and pain/tox. I think we and other LIMS solutions can do far better and far faster than doing an in-house from scratch affair.
Thanks John! All excellent points made here – lots to consider!
Hi Samantha, I am curious about the shortcomings of your current LIMS (I’m also curious which LIMS it is but I understand if you don’t want to say). Is it too inflexible? Not user-friendly? Buggy? Can’t handle the increased sample volume that comes with your expansion? Sucks at inventory management? Etc.
Samantha, this is a great topic but if you speak to a lot of people in the industry, they will advise against this move but I am not going to advise for or against this as your folks may already be mentally set in the direction you wish to go. I will just point out some things you need to get this process started.
1. Hire an very experienced Software Engineer $125K per year minimum. They must be full stack they must work full time in your office and be capable of project management and highly technical and a hard core coder. These folks are real gems and hard to find so you may need to go as high as $150K per year.
2. Have that person develop a CONOPS document as a high level functional spec. Then proceed to the remainder of the design specifications. This will take at least 4 to 6 months to produce and you will need these specifications to be used as the validation documents to validate the system to meet CLIA compliance requirements, HIPAA and of course security requirements
3. Start the development process using these specifications using an Agile method and CI/CD. I strongly advise using Node.js for the dev platform and Postgres as the database. You should architect to run in Docker Containers. You will need to now add to your dev team with both full time and contractor staff. You will need another senior developer to act as backup to your primary. When one of them quits (which they will for more money or personal reasons), you need to maintain continuity and security so that will be at least another $125K per year. You will need to add contractors to do documentation and testing and validation. Those are less expensive and part time and you can expect about $45 to $55 per hour for that. You will need 6 to 8 months for development and another 3 to 4 months for validation and the go live process.
In terms of cost you will be paying a minimum of $250K per year after go live in order to maintain the developers. If you go this route you will need to do everything you can to keep both developers happy and on-board in your company or you risk losing your entire investment by having to hire a new developer who will have to learn a lot to take their place.
I am assuming money is no object here as you have requirements that are so special that having the absolute control over the system far outweighs the pain in the butt of dealing with LIMS vendors.
If you want my advice, shop around. Talks to lots of vendors. Set a realistic budget and set of requirements and then make an informed decision based on value. You may have already done this and the decision is set. In this case, you have a list of things above that you need to start planning on.