Unlocking laboratory data with cloud computing: Interview Special

Posted Apr 11, 2018 by Tim Sandle
Technology company Ovation are working on technologies designed to allow regional and community providers to unlock some the dark data in their laboratories and to allow for regional labs to share and commercialize the data.
A room full of servers
A room full of servers in 'the cloud'
Laboratories will want to share data securely in order to provide information to payers, providers and researchers. This can be harnessed through clinical laboratory information systems (LIMS). LIMS allows for workflow and data tracking support, flexible architecture and data exchange interfaces.
In a recent development,, which specializes in healthcare relationship management, and Ovation have announced a platform integration that is designed to provide small, specialized testing laboratories access to LIMS, client relationship and analytics solutions.
To understand more about the technology and examples of its use, Digital Journal spoke with Barry Wark, Ovation’s CEO.
Digital Journal: Why is it important for laboratories to capture electronic data?
Barry Wark: Digital capture and management of laboratory data is critical for clinical labs. Digitization allows labs to reduce manual entry errors that can force rework or delays in processing patient samples. More importantly, capturing electronic data allows modern labs to operate more efficiently through helping leverage lab staff’s time as well as access to real-time business and process analytics.
Ovation, for example, tracks every sample through every step of a bench workflow, helping lab managers identify backups and bottlenecks in their process. For lab management, Ovation’s commercial platform provides end-to-end business analytics and integrated revenue lifecycle management to help leadership recruit and retain the most valuable accounts, while improving reimbursement rates significantly.
Laboratory technician at work  taken at Tim Sandle s laboratory.
Laboratory technician at work, taken at Tim Sandle's laboratory.
DJ: What are barriers preventing laboratories from becoming fully digital?
Wark: The primary barriers we see in labs becoming fully digital are that traditional lab software systems require significant up-front investment in both time and dollars to adopt, and require ongoing maintenance from in-house or contracted IT to maintain and integrate with other systems.
Cloud-native systems such as Ovation change the rules of the game. Ovation, a cloud-based commercial platform, can be deployed very cost-efficiently. Ovation provides out-of-the-box configurations for common lab workflows, allowing labs to get from signup to production in time measured in days, not months. Because Ovation is a managed service, no internal or contracted IT staff is required. And Ovation provides turn-key integrations with a broad ecosystem of third-party systems, so labs can integrate all of their digital efforts, all without a dedicated IT staff.
DJ: How important is data sharing for laboratories?
Wark: Data sharing is crucial for clinical laboratories. This is a surprising reality for many labs used to an industry that assumes data isolation is a natural approach to data security. But the reality is that very few modern clinical workflows can be completed without data sharing across integrations with customer relationship management, electronic medical records, clinical interpretation providers, and revenue lifecycle management systems. What good is the data if it’s not shared with the ordering physician, with the patient, etc.?
On a higher level, there is a significant opportunity for clinical labs to share (de-identified) data with the research community. Smaller clinical labs haven’t been able to access this new commercialization opportunity, either because they don’t have the scale or technical knowledge. Of course, labs that haven’t digitized can’t participate at all. Systems like Ovation are beginning to enable small and medium-sized clinical labs to monetize their shareable data, creating a valuable new revenue stream for the lab.
Laboratory technician undertaking testing  taken at Tim Sandle s laboratory.
Laboratory technician undertaking testing, taken at Tim Sandle's laboratory.
DJ: Please can you explain how your new platform came about?
Wark: Ovation’s commercialization platform came from a fresh look at the software and business needs of the specialized clinical lab space. At Ovation, we were experts in data management and provenance, and technologies to help scientists make the most use of the data they collect. When we began looking at the specialized lab market, we quickly realized that labs were struggling to operate their laboratory processes and businesses efficiently. There was a need for a modern, integrated commercial platform that could be deployed efficiently and could provide for the complete needs of a specialized lab.
We leveraged Ovation’s cloud-native data management technology and our user-centric design philosophy to build a LIMS that takes full advantage of modern cloud and AI capabilities. Ovation’s LIMS isn’t beholden to outdated assumptions about what a LIMS should do. Rather, we focused from the first iterations on helping lab staff do their job, not fight with the LIMS.
With a LIMS in place, we added document management and training records, and integrated both with the platform’s permission system so that labs can maintain their QA and training processes.
We’ve now added best-in-class partners to the commercial platform: the Hunt Group for revenue lifecycle management; a variety of clinical interpretation providers, including Coriell Life Sciences; and our most recent announcement, for an integrated healthcare CRM and business analytics platform to help labs recruit and retain business.
DJ: How important was the partnership between and, what did each party bring?
Wark: This partnership is very important. Integrated CRM and operational/revenue analytics have been available only to the largest enterprise labs with dedicated IT staffs, and large budgets. Through this partnership, we’re able to make an integrated commercial platform that leverages the consolidated data, from the LIMS through the Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) system, available to all specialized diagnostic labs. Even those without dedicated IT staff can take advantage of best-in-class CRM, lab operations, and business analytics capabilities. Lab 2.0 is here, and it’s no longer just for the largest labs.
DJ: What is the main functionality of your new platform?
Wark: Ovation’s platform is built to streamline lab processes and increase lab efficiencies by delivering a unified LIMS, document management, and training records system. Ovation’s commercial platform goes far beyond these core features by adding CRM, through our partnership with, as well as revenue lifecycle management, and clinical decision support through various other partnerships. Finally, we tie all of these integrated pieces together with real-time business intelligence reports that help labs understand the trends and details of their business.
By integrating all of these pieces of the commercial life of a diagnostic laboratory, Ovation brings functionality previously reserved only for the largest enterprise labs, and makes it available to any specialized diagnostic lab.
DJ: How did you test out the platform?
Wark: We worked closely with labs in our early access platform to design and test the new platform. This has allowed us to tailor the features of the combined offering to provide maximum value to our specialized diagnostic labs, and to validate the system in real-world testing.
Abstract data image. Photo by Angela Grammatas  Noiszy.
Abstract data image. Photo by Angela Grammatas, Noiszy.
Angela Grammatas
DJ: How and where is data stored?
Wark: Ovation stores data in secure, managed cloud storage. In fact, Ovation is completely cloud-native, so there is no local software to install, and labs can deploy Ovation rapidly, even without an in-house or contracted IT staff.
DJ: How secure is the data? What measures are in place to protect data?
Wark: Ovation was built to take advantage of industry best-practices for data security, including end-to-end data encryption in-transit and at rest. Ovation is HIPAA/HITECH, GDPR, and GxP ready, and our data center infrastructure is HITRUST certified.
Ovation uses a role-based access control model, allowing our customers granular control over which users within their organization are permitted to access or modify data. And of course, all activity is logged and audited.
DJ: What has the take-up been like?
Wark: We’ve had great interest in the combined Ovation and offering from our existing customers and from the market. We’re solving major pain points for these labs after all, and doing it all with an out-of-the-box solution that is both easy to implement and economical. More than one third of our customers are already using the combined platform or have expressed interest in adopting the platform in the near future.