Investing in EMR interfaces for outreach growth

Feb. 1, 2012

The exponential growth in the use of Electronic Medical Records (EMR), coupled with the multitude of EMR products and vendors, creates a tremendous opportunity for small to mid-sized labs. Unfortunately, many of these labs will miss out on this opportunity as they struggle to keep up with the technology demands that EMR and “meaningful use” criteria require. The biggest obstacle that labs face in EMR adoption is their inability to seamlessly connect with the disparate EMR systems that providers in their area are using. The national labs, such as Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp, have taken a proactive and strategic approach in embracing EMR interfaces to solidify their provider relationships and lock in new and repeat client business. Regional, anatomical pathology, molecular, specialty, and hospital-based outreach labs need to do the same to remain competitive by providing EMR interfaces to build provider loyalty, increase their client base, gain referrals, and grow their business.

To remain competitive, labs need to meet the increasing demand for provider EMR integration, especially now that the HITECH Act and Electronic Medical Records Adoption Incentives signed by President Obama makes incentive payments available for physicians adopting electronic medical records. The simple solution is for labs to make one connection from their LIS to a vendor-neutral connectivity hub which can distribute lab data to an unlimited number of EMRs and support physician direct order entry. Making this connectivity available to providers is a convenient and cost effective option which also allows them to maintain their office workflow with no disruption in service. This also maximizes EMR usefulness and helps meet meaningful use criteria.

Most small to mid-sized labs do not have the deep IT resources often seen at the larger national labs. Finding and being able to afford qualified internal technical expertise for interface programming is not always an option. There is a steep learning curve and a steep cost (the average interface engine cost is estimated at $200K+) associated with building the complex interface engines needed to serve multiple EMR vendors. Specially trained and certified IT staff are needed to properly maintain and operate these engines, even the open-source offerings, and provide for reliable interfaces which can operate around the clock. In addition, homegrown systems may not always be scalable and portable and may not be able to keep up with the rate of EMR adoptions, causing the lab to lose clients and thus negatively impacting growth.

The more successful labs have realized that developing and supporting IT solutions are not their area of expertise and have engaged connectivity and integration specialists for cost-effective, reliable interface solutions such as Lifepoint Informatics’ EMRHub. EMRHub is a virtual integration platform requiring only a single LIS interface, enabling you to reach every EMR in your provider community.

Providing a cloud-based virtual integration platform that requires only a single interface to a lab’s LIS will enable a lab to connect with every EMR in its provider community and strengthen the client connection needed to expand its client base.

With an established, reliable, and unlimited integration platform, labs can be more responsive to EMR interface requests to continue to attract providers. Labs also need to be open to sponsoring the lab interface fees on behalf of the provider that EMR vendors typically charge. It is becoming increasingly customary for a lab to make this investment to add value and to differentiate itself among providers.

William Seay founded Lifepoint Informatics and currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer. Prior to founding Lifepoint Informatics, he managed sales and marketing efforts for Clinical Diagnostic Services, a New Jersey medical laboratory. He also served in various capacities at Gramercy Laboratory, a New York anatomic pathology and cytopathology lab.