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Health information technology

The trend in healthcare and in clinical diagnostics is toward adoption of health information technology (HIT). The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) of 2009, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and other government regulations were all designed with components that provide incentives for doctors, hospitals, laboratories, and other healthcare providers to adopt the use of electronic medical records (EMR), electronic health records (EHR), laboratory information management systems (LIMS), and other forms of HIT.

There appear to be three major trends in HIT when it comes generally to medical data and specifically to laboratory test data. They are direct patient access, web access and mobile device access.

Another factor in the adoption of HIT is “meaningful use” (MU) guidelines. When incentives were established to get healthcare providers to adopt HIT, part of the definition involved that they adopt “meaningful use” (MU) of HIT. Meaningful Use has several different stages with varying standards adopters have to meet in order to receive the financial incentives or to avoid any penalties. Stage 1 of MU has numerous steps to it, but of significance in terms of adoption trends is the requirement for eligible professionals to “provide more than 10% of all unique patients with timely electronic access to their health information.”

Access must be through a secure channel that encrypts and protects the content. Furthermore, the patient’s information must be available within four business days for EPs and within 36 hours of discharge in hospital settings. Fifty percent of patients must have access with 5% actually viewing, downloading or transmitting to meet the Stage 2 measure.

The demand for HIT has put laboratories on the front lines in adopting laboratory information management systems that can connect with electronic health records either directly or through portals. Although this can place a financial strain on small- to medium-sized laboratories, a number of companies are offering low- cost, customizable modular systems or Web-based services that can expand their current LIMS capabilities into new areas, including to patient portals.

The technical requirements of these modules or web-based portals or services are compliance with CLIA, HIPAA, and HL7 standards, provisions to ensure the privacy and security of personal health information, and the ability to be viewed by a variety of browsers and devices, including mobile applications.

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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Lower Prices, More Data in UHC’s New Lab Network?

CEO SUMMARY: It’s been a common strategy among managed care payers to seek the lowest prices for clinical laboratory testing when negotiating contracts with labs. However, lower prices may become less important over time as the health system moves away from fee-for-service payment towar…

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UHC Reportedly Cutting Ties with Regional Labs

CEO SUMMARY: By cutting out smaller, regional labs, UnitedHealthcare appears to want to shift an unknown percentage of its lab test volume to Quest Diagnostics Inc., which it recently restored to its national provider network. Clinical lab directors should be concerned about this developm…

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Portland Lab Leverages Informatics for Growth

CEO SUMMARY: In Portland, Oregon, Legacy Laboratory Services, a division of Legacy Health, continues to post strong volume growth. One driver supporting this growth is the lab’s ability to implement connections between its laboratory information system (LIS) and the electronic …

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Memorial Hermann’s Health Info Exchange Helps Lab Outreach

CEO SUMMARY: In Houston, Memorial Hermann Healthcare System has put together a health information exchange (HIE) to serve the Houston market. By design, this HIE not only gives physicians immediate access to a wide variety of patient data, but also supports the type of workflow required f…

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Top 10 IT Trends Send Message For Labs & Pathology Groups

CEO SUMMARY: Healthcare’s shift away from fee-for-service medicine and toward integrated clinical care is widely recognized. However, few lab administrators and pathologists are aware of the even faster transformation underway in healthcare informatics. Presented here are the “Top 10 …

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ELINCS Specifications Released in California

CEO SUMMARY: Clinical laboratories and pathology groups have a new tool to use for interfacing their LIS (laboratory information systems) with the electronic health record (EHR) systems of their office-based physician clients. It is ELINCS, an IT standard designed to support elec…

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Georgia HIE Helps all Labs Feed Test Data to Docs

CEO SUMMARY: In Macon, Georgia, an innovative effort by a regional extension center and a health information exchange (HIE) will level the playing field for hospital labs and independent labs in the state. Their goal is to build a secure and flexible clinical integration platform…

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May 02, 2011 “Intelligence: Late Breaking Lab News”

Another laboratory information system (LIS) product has received certification as meeting stage 1 meaningful use (MU) measures. On March 31, McKesson Corporation announced that the Drummond Group’s ONC-aTCB 2011-2012 (ATCB 2011/2012) certification as a compliant EH…

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Sunquest’s LIS Product First To Earn Certification from CCHIT

IF THERE WAS A RACE TO BE FIRST TO OFFER a laboratory information system (LIS) product that is certified to be compliant as an (EHR) electronic health record module by CCHIT, then Sunquest Information Systems, Inc., has attained that achievement. On January 21, 2011, the Cer…

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