Laboratory Information Systems

A laboratory information system, or LIS, is a software program that provides all the basic functionality needed for a clinical laboratory, whether that laboratory is hospital-based or a standalone commercial laboratory facility. Various components of the LIS will handle patient check-in, order entry, results entry, physician and patient demographics, specimen processing, and have some level of reporting ability.

Legacy laboratory information systems are typically homegrown, that is, they were developed within the organization 20 or 30 years ago, or were purchased ”off the shelf.” Homegrown systems and legacy systems often have problems with connectivity, scalability and flexibility, especially as technology changes within the laboratory and healthcare industry. Off-the-shelf products often force laboratories to modify their workflow to adapt to the LIS, rather than the other way around. Also, numerous LIS vendors have gone out of business or shifted their focus to other areas in the last two decades. Often legacy LISes utilize multiple databases, which create a great deal of difficulty with database interfaces and data synchronization.

Newer LISes are increasingly able to offer what laboratories need: modular-based systems with customizable functionality, scalability and a high level of adaptable connectivity for both institutional electronic medical records (EMRs) and physician access. Laboratories also require a LIS to to interface with the laboratory’s instrumentation, which allows patient results to be directly entered into the database and then into the EMR; Web-based order entry/result inquiry; and workload balancing. The LIS often has non-clinical functionality such as workflow monitoring and billing services.

In addition, these systems need to be customizable, be able to effectively and easily interface with both the institution’s electronic health record, the laboratory’s automated equipment, and provide Web-based access for physicians.

The environment for health information technology, specifically LISes, requires adherence to a number of national and international standards including CLIA, CCHIT, ANSI, HL7, HITSP, and LOINC.

Labs Should Heed Lessons from Huge Data Breach

CEO SUMMARY: Following news last month about the biggest breach of personal health information in the clinical lab industry, lawyers representing some of the affected patients filed at least 12 class action lawsuits. Federal officials and attorneys general in multiple states also launched…

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LIS-EHR Fees Increasing, Say Hospital Lab Execs

CEO SUMMARY: Hospital and health system lab managers say some vendors of electronic health record systems for independent physicians are aggressively raising the fees they charge labs. Labs serving outreach physicians now pay more in two ways, they say. First, they pay the price the vendo…

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For Labs, Blockchain Offers New Opportunities

CEO SUMMARY: Some of blockchain’s proponents view its potential uses in health information technology to combat cybersecurity threats and improve the secure exchange of health information through electronic medical record systems. But for clinical laboratories, blockchain could be the k…

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Computer Hackers Attack LabCorp, Company Shuts Entire IT Network

FOR ALL CLINICAL LABORATORIES AND PATHOLOGISTS, the hacking problems Laboratory Corporation of America experienced earlier this month are a reminder that unwanted IT attacks are not a matter of if, but when. It is an accepted fact that labs and other medical providers are at higher r…

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Cyber Thieves Hit UK Hospitals During Ransomware Attack

AT LEAST 48 HOSPITALS, PHYSICIANS’ OFFICES, and ambulance companies in Britain’s National Health Service were among the many victims of a cyberattack Friday that affected tens of thousands of computers in as many as 150 countries, The New York Times reported. Hackers use…

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Newsmaker Interview: Matthew Hawkins

CEO SUMMARY: By now, most pathologists and clinical laboratory administrators recognize that effective use of information technology will be a critical success factor as healthcare systems transform to do population health management and to use “big data” with value-based payment mode…

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Partners Consolidates AP Using Common IT System

CEO SUMMARY: Partners HealthCare of Boston, Massachusetts, is creating a single informatics platform for CP and AP across all six of the hospitals that it operates. It will replace 19 different pathology systems currently used at six sites with just seven integrated pathology systems. As …

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One Key to Lab Success Is Daily Performance Metrics

CEO SUMMARY: Every clinical lab today must deal with the twin challenges of performing an increased volume of tests while being paid less money. That’s why a handful of innovative lab organizations now use management information systems with analytics that provide detailed, real-time me…

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Meaningful Use Stage 2 to Challenge Labs in 2014

CEO SUMMARY: On December 6, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services proposed to delay implementation of Meaningful Use (MU) Stage 2 until 2016. One reason is that only about 80 vendors have certified their products to MU Stage 2. That is a small proportion of the almost 900 vendo…

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Most Colorado Labs Now Connected to State’s HIE

CEO SUMMARY: One trend getting little publicity is that of health information exchanges (HIEs). Since its founding in 2009, the Colorado Regional Health Information Organization (CORHIO) has grown steadily. Today, most of the state’s independent lab companies and hospital laboratories a…

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