Integrating your EHR and laboratory is now an absolute necessity. It is the only way to provide value-based care and make your healthcare system future-proof. However, creating a robust and resilient lab interface for your EHR is a complex task. In most cases, the EHR your clinicians use and the LIS in your laboratory will have different protocols and process information differently. Ordinarily, this makes it very difficult to link up the two systems and transfer information seamlessly. Integration is the key to making the two systems communicate effectively.
Some of the key benefits of a well-integrated lab and EHR include:
- Higher clinician productivity
- Reduction of ordering and process errors
- Quick transmission of results
- Elimination of erroneous manual processes
- Reduced cost of processing test orders and results
- Faster processing of insurance claims
- More accurate diagnosis and treatment
Virtually all CIOs and healthcare providers want to have these benefits in their organizations. But only a well-designed interface that can handle all the intricacies involved in sending, storing, and receiving data will provide these benefits.
The following ideas can help you build a robust lab interface for your EHR.
What Is a Robust Lab-EHR Interface?
Before we look at the steps to make your interface robust, let’s briefly define what we are talking about.
A lab interface for EHR acts as a link between your organization’s electronic health record system and the laboratory in your facility. It can also link up with the lab or radiology center you send test orders to outside your hospital.
A robust interface can handle system failure occurrences and any other unexpected event where data is not sent, received, or processed. To make it robust, you need to think about and handle all instances where system failure may occur. Then you create a plan to handle each scenario. Here are some steps to take to build robustness into your lab interface.
1. Subdivide Your Interface Tasks
Information system integration is a complex task. Breaking it into small bits or subtasks will make the entire project easier to manage.
Also, ensure that part of the interface does a single task and can work independently. This is called atomizing tasks, and it makes it easy to discover and resolve issues within a short time.
Four main tasks involved in interface development include:
- Data storage: Putting data in a retrieval system or database for future access.
- Networking: Sending and receiving information
- Interpretation and Transformation: Converting and translating data
- Enrichment: Using the data in one system to find and import data from another one.
Separating these four components will enable you to make changes more efficiently.
2. Standardize Data
Creating data standards helps your EHR and LIS to communicate effectively without errors. Decide on the standards you will use to format, store and process data internally. Examples include setting formats for patient names, addresses, telephone numbers, and test codes.
Establishing standards makes it easy for you to build additional interfaces without affecting how you will structure data.
3. Reuse Components
While designing your interface, you will discover that there are very few unique elements. Certain modules, procedures, and program segments will need to be reused many times. Such code segments should be built as shared modules. The only part that you need to build from the ground up will be those unique modules.
4. Work With an Interface Design Expert
Building an interface to link your lab information system with your EHR is no trivial task. It could take you many months or even years to build a “perfect” interface. And by the time you complete the project, new technology would have made it obsolete.
To achieve your goal of having a robust and future-proof LIS-EHR interface within weeks, work with an interoperability specialist.
Get a Robust and Reliable Lab Interface for Your EHR/EMR
Contact Lifepoint informatics at 877.522.8378 for a free demo. We have a proven solution that can link all major EHRs with your lab information system.