By Judith Lee
When you consider the cost, the operational impact, and the overreaching effect on a lab’s future, your choice of a Laboratory Management System (LMS) looks more like choosing a spouse than a software system.

“A full LMS software package is a long-term relationship, and it’s important to determine the best possible partner for your business,” noted Bruce Krymow, director, marketing and operations for Optivision, Inc. “In the context of our industry, there are only a few LMS providers in the entire world and really are no others internationally that provide such systems commercially.”

Some of the current options for optical lab LMS systems include:

CC Systems Lab Management Software (Labzilla)
Digital Vision, Inc.
Optifacts, Inc.
Optivision, Inc.
Optical Lab Software Solutions (Website says “Coming 2013”)
Vision Star Laboratory Management System

Optifacts, OMICS, VisionStar, Visual Lab Pro and the brand new soon-to-be released Optuitive lab software are all part of "Optical Lab Software Solutions" the group of lab software systems owned by Essilor. DVI and Optivision are wholly-owned U.S –located and operated companies with complete LMS solutions for optical labs, while CC Systems is a Canadian company.

“The field has grown as the optical laboratory industry recognized and adopted automation in various aspects of their operations,” observed Patrick Broe of Ocuco, a 17-year veteran of the optical software and LMS business.
As labs automate and add conveyors, there needs to be a central brain running the show. Selecting a new LMS vendor is like undergoing brain surgery, so picking wisely can be a “life or death” decision. Labs that are looking to switch out their LMS system are in the same position. To narrow the field and help sort out the best LMS partner for your lab, here are 20 questions to ask an LMS vendor:

1. Is the entire LMS package (all modules) developed, owned and supported by the vendor, including calculations, accounting, reporting, and remote order entry? The concern here would be if the vendor’s vendor could no longer provide a portion of the package, or if the module underperforms.

2. Does any lens manufacturer have any shares, ownership, control or direction of the LMS provider? There could be an agenda to influence the lenses your lab can offer.

3. Does any lens manufacturer or freeform/digital lens design provider have any financial sales arrangements with the LMS provider? Ditto on #2.

4. Can the LMS provider communicate with all conventional and freeform/digital lens production hardware? A communication problem could mean further expense in acquiring new hardware.

5. Is the LMS vendor integrated with all freeform/digital lens designs? With the rise in freeform/digital, the lab will benefit from having all options available.

6. Will the lab be locked into a contract for any period of time, and if so, what period? As we know, contracts can have unforeseen consequences.

7. Does the LMS provider include the cost of in-lab installation, setup and testing? Could be a significant add-on, if not covered.

8. Does the LMS provider include the cost of in-lab, hands-on training and oversight, and if so, how long? Watch out for add-ons.

9. Does the LMS provider include the cost of the lab server, machinery interface PC, serial connectivity hardware or other hardware? More add-ons?

10. What are the technical support options? Yes, you will need technical support, and more is better. Request a detailed description of what is provided.

11. How does the Remote Rx Order Entry interface work, and does it include a simple, direct frame tracer component? This feature will be important to your customers.

12. How much are the electronic remote order transaction fees? These can add up.

13. What are the Rx order jobs status checking options? Again, important to your customers.

14. What reports are available for lens usage, daily sales and other lab management data reporting aspects? While you may be more focused on operations, reporting can shape the lab’s future.

15. What kind of functions can be automated in full or part to eliminate or reduce time, money and labor? Cost savings will help to justify the overall investment.

16. Can the Inventory Management program easily import automated lens data updates? Avoid a snafu here if you can.

17. Can the Inventory Management program easily generate lens orders for electronic transmission? Ditto to #16.

18. Are major (VisionWeb, Eyefinity/VSP, My Vision Express, AcuityLogic) lens ordering interfaces electronically integrated so orders don't have to be re-keyed into the lab software? Saving labor equals saving cost.

19. Can Rx order trays be barcode scanned to be transmitted electronically to any outsource lab so orders don't have to be re-keyed into another Rx order interface, faxed or called in?

20. Will the LMS vendor carry any installments interest-free to avoid the cost of the lab going to the bank or leasing agent? Nice if you can get it.


Labtalk June 2020