Clinical Laboratory leaders can expect increasing demand for LIS-physician EHR integration

Hospitals are adopting electronic health records (EHR) at an accelerating rate. That’s the good news. But many hospitals lack the resources to acquire an EHR and implement it in a fast and robust manner, as many pathologists and clinical laboratory managers know from experience.

That makes the accomplishment of Banner Health all the more impressive. Last week, it was announced that 17 of Banner’s 22 hospitals have achieved Stage 7 of the EMR Adoption Model (EMRAM) developed by HIMSS Analytics, which is part of the Health Information Management and Systems Society (HIMSS).

Banner Hospitals Reach Higher EHR Functionality

InformationWeek Healthcare published a story about this news. It stated that those 17 Banner hospitals “have developed a comprehensive EHR that includes everything from computerized physician order entry and electronic documentation to a data warehouse, closed-loop medication administration, and health information exchange capability.”

The American Hospital Association (AHA) recently noted that as many as 80% of the nation’s hospitals have yet to meet the Stage 1 Meaningful Use (MU) requirements associated with federal incentives for adoption and use of electronic health records. That slow progress is reflected in the fact that, along with Banner Health’s 17 hospitals, only 82 hospitals have achieved the Stage 7 of the EMRAM model.

The news at Banner Health will interest pathologists and clinical laboratory managers for another reason. According to InformationWeek Healthcare, Banner Health learned from earlier EHR implementation efforts that documentation and CPOE (computerized physician order entry) should be implemented together.

Yes! Electronic health records (EHR) are working their way into healthcare. It is a milestone event that 17 of the 22 hospitals operated by Banner Health have achieved Stage 7 of the EMRAM model developed by HIMSS Analytics. (Photo by IBM.)

Yes! Electronic health records (EHR) are working their way into healthcare. It is a milestone event that 17 of the 22 hospitals operated by Banner Health have achieved Stage 7 of the EMRAM model developed by HIMSS Analytics. (Photo by IBM.)

“It’s hard for doctors to do CPOE first and then do documentation, because it doesn’t fit into their workflow well,” noted Lee Lemelson, System Vice President of Clinical Applications for Banner. “They order some meds and order a lab, and then they have to go back and document it in a paper progress note.”

Implementing Documentation and CPOE at the Same Time

Lemelson said that Banner listened to this physician feedback, then changed implementation plans to simultaneously implement both CPOE and documentation simultaneously. That is why currently about 85% of all orders for medication and laboratory tests are placed through the electronic ordering system at Banner Health.

The other notable accomplishment that will catch the attention of pathologists and medical laboratory managers is the integration of healthcare informatics at Banner Health. InformationWeek Healthcare wrote that “Banner has an internal health information exchange that connects its Cerner inpatient EHR to its NextGen ambulatory care EHR. Any employed physician anywhere in the system can view inpatient and outpatient data on any patient. In addition, Banner has built a special Web portal that allows private-practice physicians to see inpatient data on any of their patients who has been hospitalized.”

Banner Health’s progress toward a fully-paperless healthcare informatics platform that can move data to different care settings demonstrates why it is important for clinical laboratories and anatomic pathology groups to advance their own health informatics capabilities. Physicians and other providers will increasingly demand that their laboratory provider support them with fully-digital lab test ordering and lab test reporting, for example.

For that reason, it is a smart decision for all medical laboratory administrators and pathologists to revisit their laboratory organization’s informatics strategy. One by one, most of the nation’s larger hospitals and health systems will be achieving an integrated healthcare informatics capability. And, since these same hospitals and health systems now employ growing numbers of office-based physicians, it is essential that local laboratories be ready to offer an all-electronic solution for lab test orders and results reporting.

—Pamela Scherer McLeod


Related Information:

Banner Health Achievement Highlights EHR Struggles

Primed for explosive growth

The Official Web Site for the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Records (EHR) Incentive Programs

EHR Incentive Program for Medicare Hospitals

Carrots, Sticks and Digital Health Records 

Hospital and Physician Adoption of EHRs Will Accelerate Because of Federal Incentives

THE DARK REPORT: Integration of Clinical Care and the Lab Industry