Unlocking laboratory information’s potential, from an analytics standpoint, to improve healthcare

By: Alan Lenhoff   
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519
Curt Johnson
COO,
Orchard Software Corporation



Professional:

Orchard Software Corporation: Chief Operating Officer, 2011-Present; Vice President of Sales and Marketing, 1995-2011; Abbott Diagnostics Division: Clinical Chemistry Specialist, 1991-1995; Diagnostics System Specialist, 1988-1991.

Education:
BS, Sales and Marketing, University of Akron.

Personal:
I enjoy spending time with my wife, Ann, and three children, Ricky, Jonathan, and Danielle; taking trips to Walt Disney World; and I am a voracious reader of business and leadership books.

How would you characterize the mission of Orchard Software Corporation? The product of the laboratory is information; our goal at Orchard Software Corporation is to effectively and efficiently disseminate laboratory information into the hands of providers to improve patient care and to unlock laboratory information’s potential, from an analytics standpoint, to improve our entire healthcare system.

What are Orchard’s primary areas of expertise? What are the major categories of solutions that Orchard provides for its customers? Our expertise stems from a clear understanding of the value of laboratory information. Our solutions revolve around laboratory information, including our LIS, our anatomic pathology solutions, our analytics business unit, and our POC management and integration solutions.

Orchard installed its first LIS in 1993. What are some significant technological advancements and milestones that the company has achieved since? With more than 20 years of LIS experience, Orchard has had many achievements and milestones. The key to our success is our ability to focus on the current needs of laboratorians, yet simultaneously look forward and provide solutions that satisfy the future requirements of a continually changing healthcare environment. As an example, we know that interoperability and integration of a best-of-breed LIS is the optimal solution for the healthcare industry. Second, our new analytics business unit showcases the value of laboratory data. By facilitating the aggregation of data within a healthcare organization, we can not only uncover opportunities that lower costs for our customers, but also improve the health of their patients.

Point-of-care integration and administration has become a vitally important issue for many labs. How is this addressed by Orchard? POCT is becoming a larger part of the healthcare industry, and we are excited at Orchard to introduce additional products to assist with the integration and management of this testing. Recently at the AACC annual meeting, we introduced our new Orchard Trellis Enterprise product. Orchard Trellis POCT solutions allow immediate and convenient electronic access to POCT results to eliminate transcription errors, allow providers to make faster clinical decisions, include POCT results in analytics, and promote patient satisfaction.

What role does process automation play in the LIS solutions Orchard offers? What is “rules-based” technology, and how does this help to address regulatory issues? With our expertise and focus on the needs of laboratorians, efficiency through process automation is a cornerstone built into all of our products. Rules-based technology, while a buzz word for some, is absolutely critical to distinguish Orchard’s products.

Orchard utilizes it for decision-making support in the pre-analytical, analytical, and post-analytical aspects of our information systems to increase the efficiency and streamline process automation for our clientele. Orchard’s advanced configurable rules improve workflow efficiency and error-proofing by aiding in decision making throughout the total testing process. This ensures the consistent execution of procedures and increases productivity.

What is the importance of seamless integration of systems to your customers, and how does Orchard help them implement this? How do you address interoperability? Laboratory information is of limited value unless it is seamlessly integrated so that it reaches providers and thereby benefits patients. Orchard diligently works with all vendor partners including diagnostic instrument manufacturers, EHRs, reference labs, and billing systems to ensure our interfaces are state-of-the-art.

Changes in reimbursement have created challenges for labs. Can labs use LIS to navigate these waters, and influence enterprise-wide improvements in care and savings? Labs need to understand that the LIS is an essential tool, that their product is information, and that the value of that information is that it can be used to significantly influence downstream costs and improve patient care. It is critical to understand that clinical information must be integrated within a healthcare system, and at Orchard we intend to do our part to create a greater understanding of the value of laboratory information. We have a new business unit called Orchard Analytics, with the goal of helping others in the industry understand how to utilize laboratory data not only to reduce costs and be more efficient within the lab, but also to integrate that data with other data sets such as pharmacy and financial to promote improvements in patient care and within the overall healthcare system.

As molecular diagnostics takes hold in the clinical lab, what challenges and opportunities for lab informatics does this raise? Molecular diagnostics continues to grow and become a more integral part of all laboratory testing. This provides both challenges and opportunities for laboratory informatics. The challenges include understanding the vast amount of data created, having the ability to absorb this information, and interpreting the data into meaningful and useful information for providers. The opportunities are vast, in that molecular diagnostics is poised to revolutionize the lab industry, or perhaps even healthcare as a whole. And, as such, information systems must be prepared to provide the tools that can manage and augment the benefits of molecular testing.

How does Orchard support its customers after the installation of a system? At Orchard, we are proud of our reputation and of our award-winning service and support. We have been ranked number one by KLAS (among community and ambulatory LISs), for more than 10 years. Our people and our dedication to clients allow us to achieve this superior level of support. Our continuous development process and practice of providing our support contract clients with no charge upgrades ensures that our customers always have the most state-of-the-art LIS.

What role does customer input have in defining and refining the systems Orchard provides? Customer input is what defines our products. Listening to the needs of our customers has been inherent in the development of our systems since day one. The input from our diverse user-base drives the continuous advancement of our products and helps us perfect our lab systems to provide the broadest set of benefits to a wide range of laboratory customers.

Unlocking laboratory information’s potential, from an analytics standpoint, to improve healthcare
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Alan Lenhoff
Has served as Editor and Editorial Director for numerous periodical publications in a career of more than three decades. He has edited classroom periodicals for students, educational and promotional publications for healthcare organizations, program guides and member magazines for educational television, and a variety of publications for professional associations, among others. He holds degrees from Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Chicago. Alan has been editor of MLO since 2011.

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