Labs are complex environments that support many regular and specialized workflows. For lab managers to meet the daunting tasks they face daily, they need a functional LIS. And for efficient patient care, the LIS and EMR/EHR can’t function as islands. In fact, for many providers, lab test ordering and reporting of results are now handled directly from the EMR. That’s why the LIS needs to be linked directly to the EHRs of the hospital and client providers. Below, we’ll be looking at the steps your lab’s decision-makers should take to achieve effective LIS EMR connectivity. Each step is represented by a question that needs an appropriate answer.
1. What is the network configuration between the LIS and the EMR?
Today, there are two categories of LIS to EMR connections. The first is the stand-alone installation, and the second is the LIS module included by the EHR vendor.
While EHR vendors have made giant strides in improving their LIS modules, many of the included modules seldom meet the sophisticated needs of most modern laboratories. That implies that many labs still opt for more robust stand-alone solutions that meet “best-of-breed” requirements.
Some labs have their LIS on stand-alone servers installed in-house, while others have migrated to the cloud. If you have LIS and EHR installed on cloud platforms, you can easily use HL7 with the Lower Layer Protocol (LLP) over SFTP or through a VPN. Otherwise, you may need to install an interface engine solution to provide a seamless connection between the LIS and EMR.
2. In what way will our current workflow be altered?
Ideally, the LIS to EMR connection will improve efficiency, reduce operational costs, and improve patient care. However, the current workflow may need modification to achieve these lofty goals.
Before creating an interface for LIS to EMR connectivity, it is advisable to analyze the current workflow and any alterations that will take place after completing the project. For instance, there may be a need to get a feedback or notification alert through the interface before proceeding with work. The minor procedural modification will need some time to adapt, so users must be taken through a transition period.
3. Where will orders and barcodes be placed?
With independent LIS and EMR systems, orders will be placed through a web interface or paper requisition forms. In such cases, the lab technician will place the barcodes on the specimens in the laboratory.
On the other hand, when the EMR and LIS are linked together, clinicians can place orders directly from the patient’s chart page. The coding and labeling of specimens can be done at the client provider’s office before sending them to the lab for testing.
4. When will results be sent from the LIS to the EMR?
Lab results are sensitive information, and most diagnostic and treatment decisions are made based on lab test results.
That means that lab results can’t be handled with levity. A verification process needs to be in place to ensure the correct results are sent to the EHR. This may be done through manual quality checks or an automated verification process.
5. How do we develop a test environment for interfaces?
Interfaces are software solutions. Like all software created by humans, there will be bugs in them.
That’s why creating a test environment for the new interface is necessary. An adequate testing time for the new interface must be added to the project schedule.
During testing, all possible scenarios must be tested appropriately. And the developers should be prepared to modify the interface to solve any problems discovered while testing the solution.