Team Talk

The Future of the Lab: Moving from Paper to Digital

By Guru Singh
Oct 16, 2019

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Over the past 40 years, digitization – the transformation of analog information into digital formats) – has become part of our everyday lives. People around the world now embrace digital medical records, bank statements, bills, newspapers and books. Even money is starting to move from paper-based to paperless, with many people choosing digital options over cash.

 

The same metamorphosis is happening in the lab. Researchers are swapping paper lab books for digital options like LabTwin. Digital tools can streamline documentation and help scientists keep track of large amounts of data. This is important because thorough documentation is a cornerstone of efficient research – it makes research more reproducible, intellectual property easier to protect and regulatory guidelines easier to meet.

Digital documentation offers many benefits over paper-based systems.

 

Take Digital Notes Anywhere

Digital documentation solutions also help overcome a major problem in many labs: the difficulty of taking notes and recording data at the bench. Scientists commonly work with hazardous chemicals or vulnerable cell lines. In these situations, researchers have to stop work and remove their gloves to document their findings. With a digital voice-powered solution, scientists can record their findings while they work.

“On a daily basis, we use different technologies and move between lab spaces. In every one of them we need to make constant annotations e.g. cell concentration, viability numbers, volume of reagents, quantification of DNA , proteins, lysates, etc. Having a system that allows annotations on the go is a great resource,” said Ernesto Diaz-Flores, Assistant Adjunct Professor at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and an early adopter of LabTwin’s voice-powered lab assistant.

 

Access and Share Data

Digital documentation tools make it faster and easier for scientists to manage their records. In contrast to paper lab books which are difficult to search, researchers can easily sort, label, store, access and search digital data. This streamlines workflows and increases productivity in the lab, saving scientists time and money. Researchers can easily combine and compare digital datasets and share them with collaborators around the world.

 

Keep Data Secure

Data security is one of the biggest benefits of digital data. Paper-based documents can be lost or damaged. Digital data can be encrypted, stored securely in clouds and protected by tiered access control.

 

Create a Complete Audit Trail

Moreover, digital data makes it much easier to create a full audit trail for intellectual property protection (IP) or regulatory compliance. Digital data platforms can automatically track data entries or edits with time stamps, so it is very clear who contributed to new ideas and when IP was generated. This is much more difficult to validate with paper documents than with digital audit trails.

 

The Future of Lab Documentation

More and more scientists around the world are embracing digital documentation options because they simplify workflows and make research and development (R&D) more efficient. New technologies such as voice recognition and machine learning mean that scientists can record data, access information and integrate tools from anywhere. This freedom lets scientists focus their energies on experiments rather than on documentation.

 

Find out more about lab digitization in our whitepaper on ‘The Digital Transformation of the Research Laboratory’.