Medical laboratories advised to regularly update capabilities in integrated health informatics
During this first year of federal incentives for adoption of electronic health records (EHR), large numbers of hospitals and office-based physicians are actively developing an informatics strategy for their organizations. As these providers acquire and deploy EHR systems, clinical laboratories and pathology groups will need to deliver a robust LIS-to-EMR interface that seamlessly handles medical laboratory test orders and lab test results reporting.
Yet, even as providers install new EHR systems, many enabling technologies in computer hardware, software, wireless, and mobile computing devices are gaining capabilities at a startling rate. “These rapid improvements in information technology create a new level of risk for those clinical laboratory administrators and pathologists who have responsibility for their medical laboratory’s information technology strategy, and the operating of their lab’s IT department,” stated Gai Elhanan, M.D., M.A., Chief Medical Information Officer at Halfpenny Technologies, Inc., based in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania.
“As the core tools of information technology are given new capabilities, any clinical lab or pathology group that fails to upgrade its IT infrastructure in a timely fashion can find itself left behind in the competitive marketplace,” continued Elhanan. “What makes this situation even more complex is that the users of laboratory tests—hospitals and office-based physicians—are themselves investing in EHR systems and often buying the latest generation information technology.”
Clinical Laboratories Must Now Regularly Update Their LIS Capabilities
“The days when a clinical laboratory could acquire a basic laboratory information system (LIS) and use it for a decade or longer with minor updates and upgrades have disappeared,” added Mitchell Fry, who is the Executive Vice President of Sales and Business Development at Halfpenny Technologies, Inc. “It is time to think of laboratory informatics like you think about your cell phone. How long do you use your cell phone before you walk into the store to buy the latest model of cell phone, so you can access all of the new features and functions—many of which were unavailable six months or a year earlier when you bought your existing model.
“Well, just like you now buy the latest model cell phone with surprising regularity, your laboratory’s informatics hardware and software needs to acquire and use new capabilities that add value to your parent hospital and referring physicians,” said Fry. “For these reasons, clinical laboratories must re-think their informatics strategy and devote more resources and management time into this area of medical laboratory operations.”
Elhanan and Fry recently co-authored a special White Paper on the changing landscape for healthcare informatics. It is titled “Connecting Labs to Physicians’ EHRs: Effective Strategies for Labs to Add Value.” In this White Paper, they identify the key drivers in the healthcare informatics marketplace, along with insights as to how clinical laboratories and pathology groups should respond to these developments.
Informatics Fundamentals for Medical Laboratory Managers
This White Paper co-authored by Elhanan and Fry is a concise presentation that addresses the fundamentals on each of the topics, listed below, as they relate to clinical laboratory testing services:
- HITECH Initiatives
- Meaningful Use
- CPOE (Computerized Physician Order Entry)
- Clean Orders for Laboratory Tests
- LOINC (Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes)
Elhanan and Frey then describe the emerging models of integrated healthcare informatics. It is an informed view of how innovative hospitals, health systems, health information exchanges (HIE), and physician cooperatives are working together to create a digital health record for the patient that can be accessed by all the providers on that patient’s care team.
Dark Daily readers can obtain a copy of the free White Paper “Connecting Labs to Physicians’ EHRs: Effective Strategies for Labs to Add Value,” by using this link http://darkdaily.com/white-papers/connecting-labs-to-physicians-electronic-health-records-effective-strategies-for-laboratories-to-add-value-42011 or visiting darkdaily.com and selecting the tab marked “White Papers.”