Before an electronic, bi-directional laboratory interface is implemented, the workflow looks something like this. First, the provider places a lab order in the electronic medical records system (EMR). The phlebotomist takes a sample from the patient. Then, a requisition is handwritten and attached to the sample and, finally, the sample is sent to the lab.
Once the laboratory receives the sample, an accessioner reviews the handwritten requisition and enters the information into the laboratory information system (LIS). Because of variances in handwriting and the potential for human error, this can lead to missing or incorrect information entering the LIS.
In contrast, there are many benefits to an electronic interface which automates the passing of patient test data between systems electronically. One obvious benefit is less paperwork for the provider and the lab. Less paperwork means less manual data entry which, in turn, means a decrease in the deciphering of questionable handwriting.
A HIPAA-compliant interface has its own unique challenges. With greater convenience and improved access come increased risk. Because of the sharing of sensitive patient health information (PHI), it is essential that interfaces remain highly secure--that only those with the correct authorization may view data. Only a development company that understands the unique demands of the healthcare industry should be given the task of creating the platform for passing such data.