In early March, JMC, along with our partners at Yahara Software attended Pittcon 2017 in Chicago. Pittcon is the world’s leading annual conference and exposition on laboratory science and attracts attendees from industry, academia and government from over 90 countries worldwide. JMC and Yahara attended to learn about the latest trends in informatics, and network with companies and clients with whom we might be able to partner. We enjoyed speaking with people at their Expo booths, at the technical sessions and at the networking events.
One technical session of particular interest was one on the use of Analytical Information Markup Language (AnIML). This ASTM standard is being used to standardize data collection and storage of analytical chemistry data. Using XML-based format, AnIML provides a vendor-independent method to analyze, exchange and archive data for a variety of methods. JMC works with standards development and implementation in the biological arena and so it was very interesting to learn about the data standardization efforts in analytical chemistry. Many of our public health partners utilize analytical chemistry instrumentation for newborn screening, environmental analyses, and chemical terrorism response, and so this data standard may be used to support these areas of public health laboratories.
We also attended a networking session on Choosing the Best Laboratory Improvement Project. This session brought together representatives from a variety of industries to discuss best practices for choosing and implementing a laboratory improvement project. Much of the discussion focused on information management efforts. It was very interesting to hear the perspectives of laboratory staff who voiced similar concerns and issues regardless of their laboratory function. Issues frequently included communication problems between lab staff and the software implementation team; specifically that the staff requirements were not being understood and met by the implementation. Lack of sufficient training and change management were also also common themes voiced by the participants. Finally, securing buy-in from laboratory decision makers about the benefits of a information management project was challenging for many of the laboratory staff in attendance. These issues are frequently faced by many of our partners and clients in public health and so it was interesting to hear that these problems were seen broadly across industries. JMC and Yahara staff were able to provide some tips and tricks to the participants that we have used to successfully overcome these obstacles in our projects.