Challenges-Lab Connectivity and EHR Vendors

Why connecting to Labs is becoming difficult for EMR / EHR vendors


Interoperability between disparate components of the healthcare spectrum has largely been limited to big hospitals that had a dire necessity for systems that spoke to each other.However, a quantum shift is taking place in the health IT industry to develop interfaces that facilitate seamless connectivity, exchange and sharing of information.

Related Article :  What is Interoperability?

Connecting Laboratories to Electronic Medical Record/ Health Record (EMR/EHR) systems is a critical piece of the interoperability puzzle. In order to navigate this puzzle better, let’s look at some of the challenges faced by EHR vendors in connecting with Labs:

Related Article : Did you know the challenges faced by EHR vendors?

Lack of Standardized Interface

  • With a variety of EMR’s / EHR’s available in the market, there are several interface standards.
  • Every EMR/EHR has its own standard and varies depending on the end-user requirement.
  • For instance, the HL7 standard does not remain the same between different EMR/EHR vendors. This results in complex connectivity issues when connecting with Labs.

Lack of Intuitive Intelligence

  • Most EHR software does not have intuitive intelligence to detect a lab order and send an acknowledgement to the ordering physicians.
  • Due to this, physicians and lab staff are forced to manually follow-up on the status of the lab order and to retrieve the lab result.

Lack of Troubleshooting Engine

  • When a lab order is placed from the EMR/EHR, due to a variety of reasons format mismatches can happen.
  • Rigid error-catch engines to troubleshoot such issues are required to validate and notify the user.

Mismatch of Codes

  • When the lab order is placed from the EMR/EHR, it contains the Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes (LOINC) codes, ICD codes that describe the patient problem.
  • These codes need to be mapped with the codes used by the laboratories. If the codes are different, it will result in a mismatch and create interpretation issues.
  • In addition, the EMR/EHR needs to be up-to-date with the latest collection of medical codes. If not, there are chances for wrong interpretation of the codes at the receiver end.

Complex Connectivity

  • Every EMR/EHR is designed differently to connect with third parties such as laboratories.
  • Vendors are required to design separate interfaces individually to connect with each laboratory.

What next?

With a huge wave of consolidation happening in the Health IT industry, a lot of interest has been generated around interoperability solutions. The need of the hour is a bi-directional Lab interface that can connect any EMR/EHR with any laboratory.


Related Article : Did you know the Interoperability challenges of providers?


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