Think about the inefficiency of ordering lab tests by typing test orders from paper requisition slips into a laboratory information system. The California HealthCare Foundation, in Oakland, thought about it. Then the foundation began developing a national data standard called EHR-Laboratory Interoperability and Connectivity Specification for Orders.
The ELINCS Orders specification will allow providers in outpatient settings across the country to create test orders in their electronic health records and submit them electronically to laboratory information systems, without the need for costly, custom interfaces.
The California HealthCare Foundation, or CHCF, released the draft specification for ELINCS Orders in March 2011.
Now CHCF is ready to test how the current standard, ELINCS Orders version 1.0, fares in the real world. From December until mid-January, the foundation accepted applications for pilot sites from physician practices, community clinics, clinical laboratories, health information exchanges, and EHR vendors that cater to the outpatient market. There were no size or geographic requirements imposed on laboratories to apply, says Glen Moy, senior program officer for the foundation. “We’re looking for a diverse group. We need to know that ELINCS Orders will work for large national laboratories, as well as smaller regional laboratories and hospital laboratories,” Moy explains.
CHCF is in the process of selecting six to eight sites to receive grants of $30,000 each to implement ELINCS Orders. Pilot testing will begin this spring and last about six to nine months, Moy says. The foundation aims to have version 2.0 completed by early 2013, to precede phase three of the federal government’s meaningful use incentive program.
The focus on electronic orders is part of a larger effort by CHCF to automate all information that can be shared between outpatient sites and laboratories. In 2005, the foundation began standardizing the electronic transfer of test results between laboratories and providers in ambulatory care settings. That specification, ELINCS Results, was completed in 2006. Since then, 50 to 60 health care provider organizations in California have adopted it, along with numerous providers in Florida, New England, and the Midwest.
Back in 2005, there was little incentive for EHR vendors to standardize around a particular specification, largely because implementing custom interfaces had become a lucrative business for vendors, Moy says. However, meaningful use criteria, set forth by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009, provided an impetus for laboratories to receive data electronically. Vendors realized they could face a serious sales bottleneck if they didn’t adopt a single standard that was easy to use, Moy explains. “It takes six to nine months to implement a [custom] interface. If you can shrink that down to a couple weeks, it helps vendors from a sales standpoint.”
CHCF eventually transferred the intellectual property rights for ELINCS Results to Health Level Seven International, Ann Arbor, Mich. The foundation plans to do the same with ELINCS Orders once it completes pilot testing and receives HL7 approval. “From the very beginning, the foundation’s goal has been to help the health IT community,” says Moy. “Everything that we have produced is out there in the public domain. And given HL7’s role in the health care community for setting standards, it makes sense, at the right point, to transfer [this] there.”
Siemens Healthcare has purchased MobileMD, a provider of health information exchange solutions.
Using MobileMD’s cloud-deployed HIE services, hospitals and physician practices will be able to exchange such patient data as lab results and orders, imaging results, and discharge notes via disparate information systems.
MobileMD’s HIE solutions are used by more than 110 hospitals and more than 2,000 physician practices.
Siemens Healthcare, 800-743-6367
McKesson Corp. recently introduced its Better Health 2020 initiative, a corporate strategy in which it will invest $1 billion in research and development across its technology businesses during the next two years.
As part of Better Health 2020, the company reported that it will focus on building fully integrated revenue cycle and clinical products that it will deliver via its Paragon Microsoft-based platform. McKesson will significantly increase its investment in its Paragon hospital information system, says Kevan Torgerson, president of McKesson’s Enterprise Medical Imaging group.
At the same time, McKesson has terminated development of its Horizon Enterprise Revenue Management product. The company reports that it will move its small number of Horizon Enterprise customers to its Star, HealthQuest, or Series revenue cycle products.
McKesson has also stopped marketing its Horizon Clinicals product line to new customers but will continue to fully support its Horizon Clinicals customer base.
“None of these changes will affect McKesson’s Horizon Lab solutions or its customers,” says Torgerson. “We remain very focused on the laboratory marketplace, and Better Health 2020 does not change our level of commitment to, or investment in, this area.”
Siemens’ Novius Lab laboratory information system took top honors in the laboratory category of KLAS Enterprises’ Best in KLAS Awards for the fourth consecutive year.
The 2011 awards are based on KLAS’ annual report ranking the best-performing health care information technology vendors in more than 100 market segments as determined by ratings generated from more than 18,000 interviews with health care providers during the past 12 to 18 months.
The awards recognize vendors who offer “superior products, strong service, and high customer value,” says KLAS president Adam Gale.
Among the other winners were Cerner, for its application hosting services, and McKesson, for its Paragon community hospital information system.
KLAS Enterprises, 800-920-4109
Baystate Health, the parent company of Baystate Reference Laboratories, Holyoke, Mass., has purchased Atlas Medical Software’s outreach and connectivity solutions, including iOn. Baystate will use the products to manage the delivery of orders and results for its laboratory, radiology, and other ancillary departments.
Atlas Medical Software, 800-333-0070
PathCentral has entered into an agreement to provide its Web-based anatomic pathology laboratory information system, APLIS, to Kindstar Globalgene Technology, Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Under the agreement, Kindstar will deploy PathCentral’s APLIS throughout its facilities and to its more than 2,000 hospital clients.
Dr. Aller is director of informatics in the Department of Pathology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles. He can be reached at email@example.com. Hal Weiner is president of Weiner Consulting Services, LLC, Florence, Ore. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.