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Why Your Lab Needs an LIMS?

Data is at the heart of every laboratory’s operations, and managing that data in intelligent ways is crucial to any lab accomplishing its goals.

As has happened in so many other fields, the internet revolution has forever changed the way that pathologists and radiologists deal with their data. And the latest breakthrough in lab data management is the rise of cloud-based “Laboratory Information Management Software,” or LIMS.

These cloud-hosted solutions give labs a centralized portal for storing and displaying all their information. Because they are remotely hosted with multiple redundant layers of information backup, there is virtually no chance of losing data, and all data is accessible from anywhere that you have an internet-connected device.

Obviously the ability to securely store, backup, and remotely access lab data is crucial to any storage system. But LIMS software benefits go far beyond simple storage and backup. Here’s a look at some of the additional functionality that a cloud based LIMS offer these days:

1. Aggregated Data across Branches

It’s common for labs with multiple collection centres in separate locations to send patient samples to their main centre. Of the major LIMS software advantages, this one allows physically separate labs to store their info in a unified system. You can create different user permissions to make sure that all staff has access to the appropriate data, and allow view and edit option to only the ones that are working on those samples.

2. Increased Data Security

If you are interested in LIMS, then you will surely appreciate the built-in data security that the system gives you. If you need to restrict access to certain sections so that only designated personnel on your staff can view and edit them, then you simply edit their user permissions and it’s done. If you want certain pages to be viewable to some users, but not editable, you can do that too. This makes it easy to assign all of your staff access to the right segments of data, without compromising the security of sensitive info or risking violations of privacy regulations.

3. Expandable Storage

Depending on the type and volume of data your lab creates, getting enough storage for your electronic files can be a real issue. One of the key LIMS software benefits is that by storing your information in the cloud, it is easy to expand your system’s storage capacity as your data grows. Some providers even offer “limitless” storage plans, so that no matter how much room your information needs, there will always be enough storage, and your costs will not increase.

4. Simplified Reporting

The LIMS software advantages also include the ability to generate beautiful, detailed reports instantly, using the system’s built-in reporting features. You can create graphs and charts using any combination of the data sets stored in your system and then modify those charts so that the data is displayed in the clearest way possible. You can even sync the charts to your system so that your reports are updated as your data set evolves. No more porting your data across multiple pieces of software to create your reports, and no more constantly editing reports as new data arrives.

5. Sending Reports to Patients

Most of the cloud based LIMS will let you automatically create login accounts for your patients so that they can easily view/download their report online without the need to visiting your lab. This saves them valuable time and makes them a loyal customer. In a mobile first world, offering patients an option to view their reports online via a mobile app could be a game changer for your business.

6. Appointment Management Done Right

If you work in a medical lab or another situation where you have regular appointments, an LIMS can help you manage that information as well. You can create an electronic portal that shows your clients and patients all available times, and then lets them book appointments automatically through the system. Their profiles on the calendar are also synced to their profiles in your LIMS, so that it is very easy to pull their information and have it ready and waiting when they arrive at your lab.

7. Inventory Management

Yet another role your LIMS can fill is that of inventory tracker and manager. You can see exactly what is being used when, and by whom, and use that information to forecast expenses, cut down on waste, and ensure that you never run low on critical supplies. If you are worried about running out of something without noticing, set up an inventory alert, and the system will automatically notify you when the stock decreases past a certain threshold. With an LIMS, you can stop worrying about inventories and focus on the important work in your lab.

Upgrade your lab with cloudchowk’s cloud based LIMS. To request a demo visit, click here.

A Raincoat For Your Stomach

With the monsoon finally gracing us with its pompous presence, coffee mugs and frying pans are bound to be put to greater use. However, as we flock to nearby markets to grab our umbrellas, we need to be careful about the things we eat, for monsoon is the season for waterborne diseases. So this week, we look into the things one needs to avoid in order to enjoy the rains.

There are several things which can upset the stomach in monsoon, but dieticians have earmarked a few things notorious for causing severe diseases. It might not be possible to avoid them at all times, but one can certainly take some precautions. Here is a list of a few things to avoid and be careful about:

Leafy vegetables: Despite their undisputed importance for health, leafy vegetables are responsible for a substantial number of ailments. Dampness, dirt and mud present in the vegetable leaves make these veggies susceptible to many germs, leading to a plethora of stomach infections. It is very important to wash such vegetables thoroughly before cooking and consuming them.
Roadside juices: Roadside juices are extremely unhealthy, even in seasons other than monsoon. One never knows what kind of fruit is being used to prepare the juice. Besides, fruit is often left cut for hours and is susceptible to germs and bacteria, which thrive best in damp conditions, like monsoon. Likewise, it is important to avoid fruit salads sold on the road. Preparing juices and salads at home using fresh fruits and vegetables is a much healthier option.
Sea food: Monsoon is the breeding season for fish and prawns, so it is better to avoid seafood during monsoon. In fact, a thumb rule says that if the name of the month doesn’t have the letter ‘R’ in it, then one must avoid sea food. This means that one should stay off sea food in the months of May, June, July and August. If it is essential to eat fish, one should choose fresh fish.
Chaat: Who doesn’t love these? But alas, chaats are responsible for more stomach upsets during the monsoon than any other food product. It is highly probable that the chaat one consumes has been made using contaminated water, leading to severe infections. The accompanying chutney is just as bad. These infections can lead to diseases like diarrhoea or jaundice. For aficionados of the same, preparing chaats at home using safe water and ingredients is the safest bet.
Water: Needless to say, water is the main carrier of most monsoon based infections and diseases. Contaminated water is overflowing the streets and it is not hard for it to combine with drinking water. One must consume boiled/filtered water at all times. While on the move, it is imperative to carry potable water from home. This becomes all the more important if you have children with you.
Oily food: Dieticians say that owing to the humidity, the body’s digestion is at its lowest. To counter this, one needs to avoid heavy and oily food, else one’s stomach might get upset. Also, foods such as barley, brown rice and oats are the stomach’s best friends during the monsoon season. Adding ta dash of garlic to soups, stir fries and curries goes a long way in helping build the body’s immunity.
Dairy products: The intake of dairy products should be restricted, as they have maximum propensity to get infected by germs. Milk, said to be a complete diet, is not advised during the monsoon season. It can be substituted with curd to have adequate amount of calcium.
Spicy food: For people affected by skin allergies during monsoon, it is recommended to stay away from spicy food, since it stimulates circulation and raises body temperature, leading to skin irritation, allergies and diseases.

Apart from these dietary restrictions, there are several precautions one can take to ensure good health during monsoon, such as:

Drink a bowl of hot vegetable soup or a cup of freshly brewed green tea as the temperature will give warmth and the ingredients will boast your immunity.
Exercise to sweat out the symptoms of cold or flu before it develops into a full-fledged fever as exercise makes our immunity stronger by stimulating the blood flow.
Avoid smoking as much as you can as smoking weakens our immunity and also the respiratory system making us more prone to catch common cold and flu.
Avoid consuming alcohol as it also weakens our immunity.
Avoid touching your face after touching any surface or after getting wet as the hands may harbour microbes which may get entry in to the body through facial route.
Remember to wash your hands, feet and face every time you go outside and before consuming any food as it will minimize the chances of getting infected.
Keep antiseptic liquids handy and use for washing off mud or dirt that usually gets splashed around.
Drink herbal teas, especially those with antibacterial properties such as holy basil leaves, ginger, pepper and honey.

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There are several diseases which are rampant during monsoon, and precaution is our best defence against them. While avoiding certain food items is obligatory, we need to ensure that this does not lead to a deficiency of vitamins and minerals, which would be counter-productive for our health.A balanced diet is imperative and one can easily exercise the cautious steps mentioned above.

One needs to be ever-careful and consult the doctor if things go out of hand. Monsoon is a wonderful season, filled with joy and brings in much needed respite from summer. Enjoying it is in our hands and we can only do so by using the ‘raincoat’ of precaution against it

cloudchowk will save healthcare from complex information management.

Sajat Jain

Chicken Eaters, Beware!

Chicken Eaters have had a rather unpleasant weekend. The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) sent shock waves across the non vegetarian community with its latest findings from a study conducted recently.

What’s Been Happening

Poultry owners and breeders have been recklessly pumping antibiotic drugs into their chickens to fatten them up and prevent and treat a variety of possible diseases and infections, all in an effort to boost income. These cheap antibiotics are readily available and their returns in terms of boosted incomes are incomparable. Strangely enough , reports suggest that these poultry farmers seem to have no qualms about accepting that they use high levels of antibiotics.

How They Were Found Out

According to a report in the Times of India[1], a researcher found that 10% of patients in a village with less than nil access to antibiotics had developed a resistance to them. Dr Shetty, who owns the hospital where the researcher investigated the matter, told TOI, ”These are people who probably haven’t taken antibiotics before. They are villagers. We started thinking it could be caused from the food they are eating. That is why I approached CSE to do a study and now the data says it all.”

What the Data Says

The CSE found antibiotic residues in 40% of chicken samples bought from outlets in the Delhi NCR region. TheCSE said 22.9% of the 70 samples it collected contained residues of one antibiotic in a sample, while 17.1% had more than one, with a particular sample purchased from Gurgaon having three. Though the amount of antibiotics found in each sample was not very high and is within the US specified limit, repeated exposure to such antibiotics by regular consumers, poses a very real risk.

antibiotic-resistance-406

The Very Real Risks

Regular consumers of chicken are in danger of developing a resistance to a range of antibiotics, thereby making them immune to cures for a number of common illnesses. The frequency with which the drug laded chicken is consumed directly impacts the level of immunity that has been developed.

Why We Shouldn’t Be That Surprised

In our previous blog posts [2][3], we’ve told you extensively about antibiotic resistant bacteria that can override any defences antibiotics put up, and create havoc within the human body, sometimes having effects that doctors can’t predict until they’re staring them in the face. The one closest to home is the NDM-1 ‘superbug’, which is one of the 7 that’s been identified by the World Health Organization. Dr Randeep Guleria, head pulmonary medicine at AIIMS, told TOI, “The findings aren’t surprising. It’s a big concern and in the last few years after the NDM 1 superbug scare, the medical community has been raising concern about indiscriminate use of antibiotics in poultry and agriculture.”

What Comes Next

Other than a few suggestions directed at the Health Ministry to implements stricter laws in the poultry industry, the solutions to the problems haven’t rolled out as yet. in the mean time, we suggest picking up some soya nuggets on your next trip to the grocery store or perhaps find a more reliable poultry owner who doesn’t pump his chickens with such antibiotics.

India's best cloud driven medical lab information management software. Improve operational efficiency and easily share information with doctors and patients.

Ravi Sharma

Schizophrenia: The Misunderstood Malady

Despite more than 24 Million people worldwide suffering its effects, Schizophrenia is unfortunately largely misunderstood, and very often, misdiagnosed. Besides being brushed aside as being nothing more than a ‘bad patch’ in one’s life, or an ‘attention seeking tactic’, when correctly identified, this disorder leads to an onslaught of social exclusion that only serves to worsen its effect. It’s thus important we learn more about this affliction, so we may help those who suffer from it, rather than make their lives tougher.

Understanding Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a severe form of mental illness that combines a number of disastrous symptoms and conditions including:

Delusions (beliefs that do not change, even when they are proved wrong with facts)
Hallucinations (clear and vivid experiences of things which are not really happening)
Incoherent speech(a great impairment to communication; from giving unrelated responses, to misusing grammar, or incessantly switching conversation topics)
Diminished ability to express emotions (flat, expressionless gaze, inability to cry or express joy, inappropriate laughter or crying)
Disorganized, Antisocial or Withdrawn behavior
Oversleeping or insomnia
Schizophrenia usually involves seeing or hearing things that aren’t really there by blurring the line between fiction and reality.

Some Misconceptions about Schizophrenia and their Corresponding TrutSchizophrenia is a rare condition Over 250,000 people in England itself are afflicted

Schizophrenia cannot be cured Only if you subscribe to the notion that ‘justice delayed is justice denied’ i.e. given enough time, attention, patience and care, it can be cured, or minimized to a level where it does not interfere with normal functioning of the human brain
Schizophrenics cannot lead normal lives Cases of violence or disruptive behavior are marginal as compared to the number of cases where schizophrenics are able to lead well-functioning lives, plagued only by certain episodes here and there; they are however completely capable of having a conversation, and being a part of most human relationships without too much of trouble
Schizophrenia looks the same in all its patients It varies in intensity, symptoms and effects in every individual patients, with there being virtually no identifiable patterns amongst its patients based on any measurable criteria like age or geographical location
Schizophrenics hear their own voices in their heads The voices heard giving instructions, or having conversations are almost never of the patient themselves, but of someone else in their life who appears to have taken on a personality or certain traits that they don’t actually possess
Schizophrenics made “A Beautiful Mind” Contrary to what Pop Culture would have us believe, “A Beautiful Mind” was a largely inaccurate portrayal of the disease, though it certainly helped to raise awareness about it.
It was based on the inspiring life of Nobel-prize winning mathematician, John Forbes Nash, and depicted his struggle with the disease, which appeared in his early 30s.
According to Addiction Health Magazine, “Nash himself has pointed out that the movie portrayed him as having primarily visual delusions, whereas his delusions in real life were mostly mental and auditory”.
The movie also shows how Dr. Nash “willed himself to beat the disease”; Dr. Nash might have been one of a small minority of patients whose symptoms improve later in life, without drugs.
Today, psychiatrists agree, medications, with a milder side effect profile, are the center of a treatment that hopes to improve the quality of life of its patients,” says Dr. Roberto B. Gil, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry and director of the schizophrenia research unit at the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

When it appears

Unlike virtually every other mental disorder or illness, Schizophrenia is rather unique in that its onset is nearly always in young adulthood — not childhood or as a teen, and rarely after one’s 30s. Most people who are diagnosed with Schizophrenia have their first symptoms and episode in their 20s — early to mid-20s for men, a little later (late-20s) for women. This is one of things that make it such a devastating condition- just when young adults are ready to start their lives; schizophrenia strikes.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Pilot programs in a few developing countries (e.g. India, Iran, Pakistan, Tanzania, Guinea-Bissau) have demonstrated the feasibility of providing care to people with severe mental illness through the primary health care systems by ensuring appropriate training of health care personnel, provision of essential drugs, strengthening of knowledge among families having a schizophrenic family member, referral support from mental health professionals, and public education to decrease stigma and discrimination, which many patients feel is worse than the actual symptoms.

If you know someone suffering from Schizophrenia, make sure you are sensitive to their condition, but not condescending or discriminatory. A little love and care goes a long way.

4 Foods You Think Are Healthy That Really Aren’t

Popular Belief, much like Common Sense, doesn’t always scream factual correctness or consistency- what with the world having been discovered to be round after all- and it’s always hard to figure out what the experts are going to come up with next. Food suffers the most in this back and forth, with old research used as deception tactics to cover up new research.
As of September 2014, however, the following four foods aren’t doing your body any favours, and we advise you to stop thinking they’re healthy before it’s too late:

1. Dried Fruits

To preserve the fruit and prevent discoloration, some companies add in sulphur dioxide, which can cause stomach pains, skin rashes, and even asthma attacks when consumed. Traces of acrymalide, a nerve damaging chemical, have also been found. However, the seriously worrying bit is the added sugar, which seems to add more calories as the fruit gets dryer, raising the risk of Type 2 Diabetes. About ¼ cup of raisins can contain 4 times the calories in a ¼ cup of real grapes. However, dried fruits promise and deliver fibre, vitamin A, C, and K, as well as calcium, but just aren’t as healthy as their fresh counterparts.

2. Fat Free Products

Contrary to popular belief, lesser fat doesn’t necessarily mean fewer calories (gummy bears). In fact, while less fat in your diet can be a good thing, products with these alluring labels usually come with a secret: When the fat is removed from a product, its sodium and sugar content often increases, as does the thickener and chemical content, all in the name of trying to mimic ‘full-fat flavour’ and ‘mouth-feel’. Like every element in the body, fat has its various uses and functions, and eliminating it all together isn’t a practical aim to have, you should instead be focusing on its various types. For instance, Saturated fats (butter) and Trans fats (vegetable oils) are so-called bad fats, while Unsaturated fats (omega-3 fatty acids) are considered healthy enough fats.

3. Diet drinks

This probably won’t come as news to most of you, because even a diet soda is still a soda. Unfortunately, what’s frightening is that the substitution of sugars with artificial sweeteners could actually cause weight gain, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and heart disease. A 2013 study links an increased risk of developing diabetes – an increase by as much as 22 percent – with drinking one diet soda a day. This happens because these artificial sweeteners create the illusion that you are consuming calories- given the sweet taste-and can thus interfere with the body’s normal response to sugar, thus causing a failure to release the hormones necessary to control blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

4. Energy Bars

The most common version of these Energy Bars is Granola Bars, which are projected as a meal replacement- rather than an addition- for people who can’t find time to sit down for a full fledged meal. They are also extensively used energy boosters for athletes with serious workouts in play. Unfortunately, some energy bars are basically just candy bars, given the amount of high fructose corn syrup, saturated fats, artificial sweeteners and sodium that’s surreptitiously snuck in. They do provide a high amount of protein and/or fat depending on their particular offering, but they pack as much as 350 calories per bar, so they should be avoided unless accompanied with a lot of exercise.

Loaded with features for better clinic and lab management.

Sajat Jain

Flu and The Common Cold

The Indian Monsoon sees everything from minor dust storms to violent thunderstorms. It always comes suddenly; one week we’re staring at the skies, shying away from the sun bearing down on us like a curse, and the next we get respite in the form of a tree-shaking, road-cracking storm. It is this surprise that gets our body confused and makes us all so vulnerable to the two most annoying of all ailments: the flu, and the common cold.

Are they different?

As many as six major symptoms of both the flu and common cold overlap: Fever, Fatigue and body aches, Headache, Runny nose, Nasal congestion (stuffy nose),  and Cough. However, the cough is a lot more prominent during flu and almost absent during a cold. Also, the flu lasts a couple of weeks as whereas a cold is usually over within the week.

Can they be prevented?

Both the common cold and the flu are transmitted by aerosols. This essentially means that when an infected person sneezes or coughs, the virus is ejected into the air and hangs there in droplets to land on a new victim.

The infection can also linger on solid, non porous objects like doorknobs, desks, and all sorts of handles, which makes hand-to-hand contact a very real possibility. The prevention of both these common ailments thus lies in hygienic practices.

Frequent hand washing is the prevention, but face masks can help prevent airborne viruses from entering your nasal passages. A well balanced diet can cure or prevent most common illnesses, especially when combined with 6-8 glasses of water every day. A handkerchief should be carried at all times along with a sanitizer to avoid the transmittance of germs from one surface to another.

How can they be cured?

Quite simply, they can’t. The root infection cannot be removed from the system, but the pain and discomfort arising from it can be made to subside.

For a fever, take some cold compress, which is a cloth soaked in icy cold water and spread across the forehead, eyes and face in various slots. If there is a sore throat, gargling hot, slightly salted water will help. For a cold, do some steaming to clear the nasal passage and get instant relief. For body ache, get a warm massage on the aggravated muscles and take a couple of hours rest through it all.

Household analgesics like ibuprofen (Advil; Brufen) and paracetamol (Tylenol, Crocin) can relieve the aches and pains. Aspirin is not recommended for children and teenagers as it is quite strong. Home remedies like ginger tea, green tea and soup always help to relieve the discomfort, especially when taken along with fruits, vegetables and wholesome grains.

Fungal Infections in the Monsoon

As we told you in our last post, the streets may not be the safest place for you during the monsoon, but even when you’re back inside your house, there are a few things you’ll have to do to keep your largest organ, your skin, safe from harm.

The monsoon brings with it a host of fungal infections that manifest themselves into scratches, itches, allergies and other dermatological symptoms that go from harmless to painful in a matter of hours.

Ailments & Cures

• A small towel should be carried to wipe dry your face, hands and body immediately after they get wet- which includes anything from a full shower in the rain when you forget your umbrella at home to a few splatters from travelling in a rickshaw.

• Non alcoholic skin toners should be used at least twice a day to bring the skin’s skewed Ph levels back to book.

• Anti-fungal creams and powders are available at almost all chemists and can be applied luxuriously even on the most sensitive skin, unless directed otherwise, and on an infection that has been identified as being fungal. Such powders should also be put into shoes and socks that might get wet.

• Dry skin should be tended to immediately, with moisturizers, rose water, almond oil or glycerine, and dead skin gently exfoliated and then scrubbed right off.

• Sun screen lotions should remain a part of your daily routine, even though it seems the clouds are blocking the sun’s harmful UV rays.

• Home remedies like fruits and ice can also help to calm inflammations, almost as well or better than moisturizers, which are considered an absolute must during these wet months. Chemical peels are another fantastic way to freshen up skin that’s lost its lustre.

• Hair and beauty experts stress on washing your hair often to remove any harmful chemicals that accumulate due to acid rain or humidity.

• Cotton and Khadi clothes that are open and airy, dry faster and are thus preferable, and artificial jewellery worn on your neck and wrists cause rashes that can leave permanent scars and thus should be avoided.

The Extras

Eczema is a term applied to a variety of skin conditions that result from inflammation of the dermatitis, and Scabies is a contagious, waterborne skin condition caused by parasitic mites. Both of these can be avoided by staying clean and dry. Kids, Beware the most common victims are children, who are susceptible to viral and skin infections upon getting wet. According to the Times of India, “Patients, mostly children between age group of 4-10, suffering from allergies and fungal infection, account for around 20% skin and dermatological ailment at hospitals.”