EFFORTS TO MOTIVATE PHYSICIANS to adopt e-prescribing is just one part of a wider trend in healthcare. The drive to achieve full integration of health informatics is gathering momentum.
“By itself, the need for clinical laboratories to support e-prescribing is becoming an important competitive differentiator in the market,” observed Robert D. Atlas, President and CEO of Atlas Medical in Calabasas, California. “But at a higher strategic level, adoption of e-prescribing is a sign of the more important trend in healthcare informatics—full interconnectivity between providers.
“For example, I encourage labs to go one step further with connectivity,” he said. “Merging of prescriptions with diagnostics and radiology is a tremendous opportunity for labs to provide doctors expertise on the pre-and post-analytic sides. It also differentiates the laboratory from its competitors.
“Laboratories have always had a consultative relationship with their referring physicians,” he added. “So this is a simple extension of what labs have always done.
“You might say that interconnectivity is the change agent,” explained Atlas. “With more physicians using electronic medical records (EMRs), interconnectivity is what allows real time data to feed in and out of the patient’s EMR file. Laboratories, as a primary source of much important diagnostic information, must be ready to support the needs of their physicians for enriched data, delivered electronically.
“At Atlas Medical, our approach is to provide laboratories with informatics systems that are highly flexible,” stated Robert Gregory, Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategy for Atlas. “This open configuration supports other vendor products in the marketplace as well.
“For instance, we partner with best of breed providers to deliver integrated e-prescribing with our system, so when a physician already uses an e-prescribing product they like, we can integrate it into our application,” he noted. “Labs must work with these physicians and not disrupt their work flow. We engineer our products so they can be customized to the specifics of a lab’s unique operational needs or a physician’s workflow and preferences.”
Suggesting that labs should consider partnering with third parties, Atlas explained, “From an IT perspective, labs must manage and connect with multiple disparate systems, which requires a ‘connected care capability’ to deal with all the different systems in place.”
In a healthcare environment marked by different vendors and interconnectivity, Atlas has another recommendation for lab directors and pathologists. “As your lab connects and interfaces with physicians’ offices, keep your lab’s brand in front of the physicians and their staffs.
Lab Branding In Digital Age
“We achieve this for our laboratory clients by keeping the lab’s brand visible in a wired world,” commented Atlas. “One way is by auto-printing the lab’s brand on requisitions, labels, ABNs (advanced beneficiary notices) and custom formatted results reports.”