Net gain: moving labs to the Web
LABORATORY tests are now being ordered and results delivered
via the Internet, a development that could bring a few seismic shocks
to the world of laboratory medicine. Not long ago, in a pilot project,
an Arkansas-based physician ordered an HIV-related test. The doctor
happened to be traveling in California when the results came in. He
obtained the laboratory report not from his staff, or even from his
e-mail inbox, but from a small handheld device like the Palm Pilot,
which can easily connect with the Internet and other computer networks.
The physician consulted the patient immediately and adjusted the patient’s
medication. On a Sunday.
Laboratories and the Internet are about to be joined in technological
matrimony. Test resultsimages, data, and hyperlinks to the
latest peer-reviewed researchwill be delivered not using the
expensive, proprietary hardware and software of yore, but via the
same generic Internet protocols that have revolutionized the airlines,
publishing, and other businesses. And the cost of legacy laboratory
information systems is being marked down to lower-than-imagined
As with other industries rocked by the World Wide Web, it’s too
early to say whether the electronically linked laboratory will be
cheaper or betterbut it is coming. "The Net for laboratories
will level the playing field in terms of tools," says Tim Rich,
CEO of Antrim, a division of Sunquest. "Now the very small laboratories
can afford to have the same information management tools Quest has.
The three-year cost of ownership may be 50 to 70 percent less expensive
than traditional ownership."
At this stage, it’s tricky to say which approaches to unite the
Internet and the laboratory will prevail. But Net--related infiltration
of the laboratory landscape holds out the potential of improved
accuracy and faster turnaround times, which could make the technology
pervasive. "It’s going to be the standard of practice in the next
year or two," says Advanced Health Technologies president Robert
J. Alger. "Electronic results will just be an expected part of the
That experience will vary. At its most basic, the Internet-enabled
laboratory might take orders via the World Wide Web and report results
in the same way. The Web pages presenting those results might or
might not have supplementary information about abnormal values or
diagnostic criteria. All such services to laboratories might be
packaged under the auspices of a traditional laboratory brand name
(The Cleveland Clinic, for example, or Tulane University) or by
less established dot.com names (Healtheon or Medscape).
Because the nuances of laboratories and the Internet are complicated,
some vendors and laboratories are excited about another way to combine
themthe application service provider, which uses the Internet
to deliver applications. Thanks to high-speed fiberoptic cables
lacing the nation, using the ASP approach is indistinguishable from
having a powerful computer on the premises. In theory, ASPs can
do any information-related chore a laboratory already does and eliminate
most of the costs attendant with computers and the people who maintain
For proof of what the future holds, one need look no farther than
Specialty Laboratories, Santa Monica, Calif. "If you’re not on the
Internet, if you don’t have a plan to be on the Internet, you’re
going to be left behind," says Dan Angress, vice president of marketing.
"The revolution for hospitals and laboratories is clear: Recognize
the limitations of the laboratory information system in outreach,
and develop strategies to use the Internet. That’s where the change
is going to happen."
Angress is quick to point outas the major LIS vendors themselves
concede-that the LIS originated in an era of lesspowerful
and less-connected computers. In today’s networked environment,
Angress notes, the proprietary and quirky interfaces of the LIS
may seem somewhat outdated. "They’re not going to go out of business,"
he says of LIS vendors. "The [Internet] technology has gotten so
superior that the need for an LIS in-house is going to be limited."
His own company, he reports, began aggressively adapting its ordering
and result reporting in 1997. Its Data-PassportMD was first conceived
as something for the physicians who ordered low volumes of tests.
But demand was high. Today, more than 1,000 hospitals and physicians
can order Specialty Laboratories’ tests online and see the results
using a browser like Microsoft Internet Explorer. Eighty-five percent
of the company’s tests are ordered electronically, Angress says.
The biggest selling point: accuracy. Electronically selecting
tests eliminates accessioning errors, handwriting headaches, and
other data entry problems. That allows the company to turn results
around more quickly. What’s more, the system creates a trove of
data that makes it possible for administrators to analyze physician
test-ordering patterns, even to the point of delivering raw data
that bean-counters can plug into their own spreadsheets.
Specialty Laboratories has 12 full-time support staffers who work
with customers to make sure the software works properly. "We’re
in a unique position to make this robust," Angress says, "because
we’ve had the product up and running for more than two years. We
are continually issuing upgrades. We are now on version 3.0."
Neither Angress nor anyone else in the information technology
industry is certain how all the new gadgets will alter the habits
of hundreds of thousands of physicians. Angress is willing to predict,
for now, that physicians will continue to scrawl prescriptions as
they have since time immemorial. Ballyhooed efforts to unite the
disparate parts of a patient’s record are also lagging. "The doctor
will still move around with a notebook or clipboard. He will still
write in a chart."
Where there may be genuine change afoot, Angress says, is in the
portability of laboratory result delivery. Angress says his company
is finding that physicians do want to be able to see and read laboratory
results anywhere, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To Angress,
there is nothing futuristic about the tale of the Arkansas physician
getting laboratory results on a handheld device. That was a test
project of Specialty Laboratories and one not regarded as particularly
impressive from a technologic standpoint.
For Angress, the needs of the future might be more mundane. He’d
like to help hospitals analyze their existing test data more effectively.
"Hospitals have valuable data that are difficult to manipulate,"
Angress notes. "We are looking at what we can build that would help
our clientele." Routine tasks like billing and reporting need to
be simplified, but even Angress says such products and services
may be a couple of years away.
OTHERS believe that day is closer. The Chicago-based Advanced
Health Technologies is a leader in helping integrated delivery networks
use the Internet. President Robert Alger notes that network connections
cost roughly one-third as much as a laboratory results teleprinter.
"Tele-printers cost between $100 and $150 a month," he says. "That
includes the printer, the maintenance, the supplies, the paper,
the phone line, the whole thing. You can give someone access to
the Internet for substantially less. Maybe a third of that amount."
Alger continues: "What previously was seen as premium service,
which would only be given to your very best customers, has the ability
to generate a lower cost for the lab." And while there is naturally
trepidation associated with computer--related decisions, Alger believes
action of some sort needs to be taken quickly. His thinking, in
brief, seems to be that the Internet will enable once--distant competitors
to electronically eat your lunch. Says Alger: "The biggest message:
You’ve got to start experimenting with this."
No matter which direction the world of technology takes, Alger
suggests, there are basic steps every laboratory manager should
consider. "Your LIS is going to need to talk to the Internet regardless
of what you do. So let’s figure out how to spend $50,000 over a
limited period of time to get going. Not how you’re going to spend
$2 million. Get a little piece of the budget every year. Your organization
really needs this. Your customers need this."
Longer term, Alger says, Internet-enabled laboratory systems have
the potential to affect clinical practice as well as the cost of
testing. "Say you have someone looking at a lipid panel, and you
have a button saying ’For diagnostic help, click this link.’ Now
you’re letting the doctor control the level [of detail], which is
very important. But you’re also putting very important and powerful
information right at their fingertips, right when they need it."
Advanced Health, as Alger explains it, is an intermediary. It
is working with laboratories that want to provide additional services
to clients and with third parties who prepare the content that appears
when a lab report Internet link is clicked. That content creation
is still in flux, he says. It may be written by drug companies,
by instrument companies, by major academic medical centers-or all
of the above.
One potential endpoint, Alger hypothesizes, is a change in how
the role of the pathologist and other laboratory professionals is
perceived. "The pathologist has been disenfranchised because the
value they add isn’t really seen by the consumer. The ultimate value
of the Internet technologies is to increase the amount of useful
information that’s being provided by the laboratorians to increase
ANOTHER specialist in bringing Web solutions to laboratory information
services is the Canadian software company Triple G. It already has 175 customers
operating 360 laboratories in eight countries, including the United States-and
it is taking its application service provider offerings global. As an ASP, Triple
G is an example of the new animal in the laboratory industry.
The term ASP is not tightly defined, but generally implies that
rather than buying a soon-to-be-outdated computer for your office,
you can get the benefit of the same services over the Internet for
a smaller monthly fee. The idea is a red-hot fad on the Internet,
with ASPs springing up in many industries. Some seers believe that
such basic software programs as Microsoft Word might ultimately
be provided not on one’s own computer, in other words, but a thousand
Although considered new, this model is a rebirth of a remote computing
model served up by Medi-tech, Shared Medical Systems, and others
decades ago. Use of the Internet, as opposed to private networks,
is what sets application service pro-viders apart from their predecessors.
Triple G CEO Lee Green is betting that many laboratories will
not want to fuss with the nitty-gritty of setting up and maintaining
laboratory systems, portals, and networks. As he and others in the
industry concede, attracting the necessary personnel is no easy
task. Hospital information systems departments are, and will always
be, at a disadvantage in a fast-growing technological industry where
900,000 jobs go unfilled every year.
"It can be difficult to compete with higher-paying information
technology companies," says Green. "It’s tough for any company to
attract employees in this field." But "private companies have the
advantage of being able to offer their employees stock options and
interesting development projects."
Triple G offers its customers something equally valuable: their
own brand names. Rather than surrender a national brand name like
that of the Mayo Clinic or a regionally respected academic medical
center, Triple G customers remain in the spotlight. Internet companies,
in contrast, propose to handle or subcontract laboratory tests under
their own names in exchange for providing a hospital or physician
with other information services. Triple G’s work, technologically
speaking, is backstage. "We will allow our clients to own their
own brands," says Green.
Companies like Triple G are simply taking the next logical step,
but one that may make some administrators uneasy. "The ownership
of the data always resides with the laboratory and hospital," Green
says, "but the data itself is stored remotely."
SURPRISINGLY, there are already solid case histories in the field that
suggest the union of laboratories and the Internet will be a happy one. Clinicians
at the University of Minnesota did not need special training to get Web-based
laboratory results when the lab introduced that capability in late 1994, says
Donald Connelly, MD, PhD, a member of the CAP Informatics Committee. Even many
of the older physicians immediately understood the service, delivered by Web
browser. Why? They had been using it at home. So when a yellow box came up in
a Netscape window, indicating a physician had ordered a test not covered by
Medicare, the physician was not flummoxed. She knew-from visiting Yahoo! or
Travelocity or Amazon.comhow to fill in a patientspecific form to
keep the medical paperwork moving.
Based on this positive experience with physicians and the Web,
Dr. Connelly and others founded Abaton.com, a company focused on
bringing Web-based technologies to clinics. Within 120 days of signing
its first contract, in February 1998, Abaton.com began ASP service
to Allina Laboratories in Minneapolis. "The laboratory wanted to
strengthen its outreach capabilities to physician offices throughout
the Allina health system," Dr. Connelly says.
"Abaton.com’s product does not replace the workhorse elements
of an LIS that are so important to the efficient internal operations
of a laboratory," Dr. Connelly continues. Rather, "it puts a shell
of friendliness around the LIS so that those outside the laboratory
can order tests, review results, and get reports via a browser interface
that is less cryptic than what a typical LIS presents to external
users." To this Web-based shell, Abaton.com adds services that the
LIS may not have, such as real-time medical necessity checking as
orders are placed, detailed pickup lists for specimen couriers,
and specimen tracking. Three laboratory organizations are now using
Abaton.com’s ASP services.
As professor of laboratory medicine at the University of Minnesota
and an employee of Abaton, Dr. Connelly reports that clinicians
are increasingly accepting of Web-based services as they become
more comfortable with the Internet. One factor driving the process:
physicians who revise their understanding of the me-ta-physical
"location" of the laboratory information they need. "For the integrated
delivery system, that information has to be accessible throughout
the health system, not buried in one clinic’s chart locked away
in a medical records room when the patient appears in one of the
system’s emergency rooms in the middle of the night," Dr. Connelly
says. "With Web-based access, that lab result can be gotten when
and where it’s needed with little effort." Lab results can now be
simultaneously available via the health system’s intranet to those
authorized to access those results.
Dr. Connelly is heartened that medicine can finally take advantage
of technological advances developed in other industries. "Health
care is going to take advantage of the technologic progress and
standards of the much wider business community," he says, and thereby
gain the affordability and connectivity advantages that Internet
technologies offer everyone.
NATURALLY, the established LIS vendors have not been standing
still. At Cerner, for example, one of the company’s foun-d-ers has
returned to lead the charge into providing Cerner’s services on
an ASP basis. That is, bill a monthly subscription, not a huge one-time
fee, and use the Internet to avoid installing a big mainframe altogether.
"We are running ASPs today," says Paul N. Gorup, vice president
for application and data services. "We are supplying a Cerner application
where all of the IT-related activity and risk is being taken away
and offered as a subscription service. Cerner is aggressively trying
to proceed in this direction."
Peace of mind is part of the package, he says. "The machine they
would have bought, which would have been obsolete by the time they
got it up and running, is now no longer a risk," he notes. He adds
that Cerner now has three ASP clientsin North Carolina, New
York, and Missouriand in each case they were customers who
"specifically did not want, long term, to maintain the IT infrastructure."
A key feature distinguishing Cerner’s offerings, Gorup proposes,
is that it is not a generic ASP, but potentially as customizable
as what the company has always done with its largest installations.
"A lot of people hear ASP and think, ’It’s like a Ford Model T;
you can get any color you want, as long as it’s black.’ That’s not
what we’re trying to do."
Instead, he says, the idea is to have a spectrum of options and
prices to accommodate the traditional large laboratory or hospital
as well as smaller clinics. To accomplish that, Cerner is working
to ensure the ASP telecommunications links will be as solid as the
ground beneath our feet.
In concrete language, Cerner wants to know that its worst-case
scenario-a worker in a hardhat driving a backhoe cuts AT&T
service east of the Mississippi-will not be a problem. The
company has backup plans for backup plans, networks on top of networks.
"If one goes down, the other picks up," he says, launching into
a 10-minute digression of every possible contingency. "We spend
a lot of time making sure we can provide a service level that’s
At Sunquest, the mission is equally clear. Tim Rich says the company
is slowly facing some of the problems presented by large, aging
mainframe-based LISs-how to reduce cost of ownership so more laboratories
can enjoy the benefits of more products. The Texas-based Rich says
he was able to hire engineers from Sabre, a former American Airlines
subsidiary in Dallas that pioneered the technology needed to allow
150,000 travel agents to make reservations online. Rich has formed
a Sunquest team, not unlike the Saturn project within General Motors,
to rethink laboratory information services from the bottom up. Their
main product: e-Suite.
If it all works, Rich believes, he will be able to use cheap informational
capacity on the Internet, or bandwidth, to revitalize gray-haired
mainframes. He’s targeting the smaller laboratories for now, partly
to preserve the company’s revenue stream, but he admits just about
every segment of the LIS market is asking about ASP options.
"Later this year," Rich predicts, "we are going to launch a high-end
commercial lab ASP and use that market as a way to validate the
high-end ASP delivery and sales process." All customers, he concedes,
are essentially wondering if they still need to own and manage computers
"Our big mainframes were expensive and time-consuming to deploy
and sell," Rich allows. "The customers had a really high cost of
ownership; therefore I was only selling to the ’high’ end of the
market." The rapidity of the change seems to surprise even a farsighted
technovisionary like Rich: "The Web has allowed us to go from very
laborious 1,800-hour installations to 200-hour installations where
we never make a site visit. We had our customers, even in beta trials,
up and running in 90 days."
In keeping with the nonproprietary nature of the Internet, Rich
makes a somewhat unorthodox admission. "The method I am using to
deploy software over the Internet would work with anybody’s software.
You do not have to modify software to provide remote Internet access.
What you see on the screen, running inside of Internet Explorer,
is a cell that emulates, giving you both system access and Internet
access in the same view." Thus the cost of ownership, and likelihood
of computer-related migraines, should be radically lower.
Vendors who provide laboratory services centrally through an ASP
model will be able to implement improvementsfor example, Health
Insurance Portability and Accountability Act compliance as regulations
are finalized. Says Rich: "We believe we’re compliant today. The
underlying computer software code was already HIPAA compliant. We’ve
read the regs, and if they go out the way they’re written today,
we feel very comfortable about compliance."
No new gizmo to come along would faze Rich. His programming gurus
are already working with the paging company SkyTel to develop a
system in which laboratory results could be transmitted from a mainframe
to an individual physician’s belt.
The savings in frustration become more apparent when Rich imagines
a world in which laboratory couriers and office managers are similarly
interconnected. Within the window of a standard browser, like Netscape,
Rich suggests, an office manager might click on a link for a particular
courier, and that company would automatically dispatch someone for
a particular specimen. No telephone call, no typing. As Rich says,
"Information and communication portability will change the way labs
SOME of the largest changes, however, may far transcend
technology. As Bruce Friedman, MD, of the University of Michigan,
explains, some pathologists may not appreciate the magnitude of
what the Internet ultimately means for laboratories. Like an officer
on one of Christopher Columbus’ ships, Dr. Friedman has figuratively
returned from the New World to tell the Spanish royalty about something
big. Trouble is, the Spanish court can scarcely comprehend the message.
But Dr. Friedman ploughs ahead anyway. "There are going to be
huge changes on a two- to five-year horizon," says Dr. Friedman,
who oversees information technology for his department in Ann Arbor.
"The practice of pathology and laboratory medicine will be radically
transformed on a five-year horizon."
For starters, he takes it as a given that paper-based test ordering
will go the way of the passenger pigeon. Electronic ordering, he
insists, is not a fad or a largely unrealized dream like telepathology.
"It will be the dominant way to order tests going forward," Dr.
Friedman says. "Docs in their offices or mobile docs will bring
up a Web page to order. That will be the way everybody orders tests.
Result reporting will take place in the same way."
Virtually every health care Internet startup has the potential
to affect laboratory medicine, from the smallest company handling
esoteric laboratory work to the biggest kahuna at this time, Healtheon/Web
MD, Dr. Friedman believes.
Web-enabled clinical laboratories
An overview of the Web-related options and opportunities for
Compiled by Bruce Friedman, MD
- Order entry/results reporting to the laboratory using
a Web browser
- Relatively common feature now offered by LIS vendors
and reference laboratories
- Clinical laboratory portal with content "wrapped around"
applications like order entry/results reporting
- Not now available in full-featured -format; some academic
centers -experimenting with early versions with excellent
- Medical content/channel and -"desktop" provider (for example,
-Medscape, Healtheon/WebMD) offer MD-office connectivity
- Provides hospital and reference -laboratories with MD-office
- Integrated delivery networks will demand con-trol and
"branded" desktop for access to "their" MDs
- Application service provider offering remote LIS functionality
- The ASP model "integrates" with all of the Web features
Healtheon, as readers of the business magazines know, has used
its own stock like Monopoly money, embarking on a $15 billion acquisition
binge. With so many components, Healtheon now faces skepticism on
whether it can be a focused company. But one of the things it wants
to be is the first place that physicians ordering laboratory tests
click on when viewing their computer screens.
It is by no means clear that any medical center will allow Healtheon
to have that sort of access to physicians, Dr. Friedman says. But
it is not too early for pathologists to consider whether they want
to let go of the medical record that Internet startups are already
"We’ve always been the custodian for the laboratory portion of
the medical record," says Dr. Friedman. "The larger question is
whether physicians in general will control the clinical record or
whether they will turf it to nonphysicians."
Some of what Dr. Friedman is talking about is already here. Internet
appliances, or souped-up cellular phones, are offered now by Sprint
and Qualcomm. But new connections are needed between laboratory
tests and information that help nonpathologists interpret laboratory
tests. In his scenario, a cardiologist might walk into the hospital
room of Patient X, stare at his superphone, note results just posted
by the laboratory, and touch the part of the screen that represents
his favorite pathologist.
The pathologist, though not in at the moment, picks up the phone
for a brief conversation about Patient X. (He, too, sees the latest
lab results.) The cardiologist hangs up, taps a few more buttons,
and orders another panel of tests before moving on to the next room.
The content of reports will evolve as dramatically as the means
of delivery. Pathologists of the future will be mixing their own
observations with prewritten blocks of text. "The pathologist will
be dealing with templates, some of which he may create himself,
some of which he may license from commercial sources or academic
centers," Dr. Friedman predicts.
"You’ll have a Hashimoto’s template. You’ll have a well-differentiated
lymphocytic lymphoma template," he adds. "The pathologist will drop
into that his diagnosis and description. But in addition there will
be a series of Web URLs to direct the receiving clinician to additional
reading on that lesion, particularly obscure lesions. So going from
a dull report with a diagnosis, you go to a mini-textbook. There
will be hotlinks and he can read on the National Cancer Institute
or go to controlled clinical trials. The physician will see images
with annotations, which he can use to achieve better communication
with the patient."
Dr. Friedman would be the first to admit his vision will not be
easy to execute. "It’s going to be very messy," he says. "It’s a
different model. It’s a model with better access to information
on the part of physicians and patients." But there will be a downside
to it. An example: If the physician with a superphone is working
at 11:00 PM or 4:00 AM, so will a pathologist.
He speaks of a glass curtain between the laboratory and the clinician
which has protected the pathologist. "I’m not sure the majority
of pathologists and laboratory scientists want that curtain to be
shattered because we’ve been in a very comfortable place with a
sort of 8 to 5 job," Dr. Friedman says. That will not be true five
years from now for pathologists at large medical centers. "The consulting
talent has to be willing to be available 7 by 24."
PART of the future he describes is already here. An emerging
company in suburban Chicago, Netsteps, has figured out ways to sidestep
the issue of what to do with ancient mainframes grinding away in
the basement. Netsteps allows physicians to access the same data
from old LISs and HISs using a Web browsing software like Netscape
or Internet Explorer.
To Netsteps, it does not matter which LIS the customer has used
or whether the data are stored on Windows or Unix computers. Its
software can handle just about anything; the company has no special
allegiance to any LIS vendor. "That independence is a real selling
feature," says Alan Gornik, director of sales and marketing.
To quote the Netsteps case study of one client: "In contrast to
existing delivery channels via phone, fax, and local courier service,
the new delivery method must allow a physician to get his or her
patient lab results at any time from any place in a real-time, highly
secure, and cost-effective manner."
Gornik continues: "Mid-size hospitals are very open to what we
do. The cost of what we do is relatively modest. We integrate legacy
information systems so that physicians can see the information they
need over the Web in one view."
A completely new system, Gornik adds, may cost millions of dollars
and take a year to install. His company’s fee is far less. "We can
get up and running in 90 days. Speed is a real advantage."
Netsteps tries to give customers the software equivalent of a
reliable car. "We have a robust technology that is proven and it
works. We design [our product] to have a low cost of ownership and
main-tenance," Gornik says. "We do not want it to add a burden to
the information systems people." Typically, the company tells a
hospital that one half of a full-time equivalent will usually suffice
to maintain Netsteps’ solution, which also includes Web-enabled
admission/discharge/transfer information and dictated reports.
The return on the investment is hard to calculate, Gornik says,
but the anecdotal evidence is that physicians loathe pulling an
entire chart just to glean one fact buried in a hospital’s computers
but inaccessible to anyone without an advanced degree in mathematics.
Administrators, Gornik says, tell him physicians are clamoring for
an easy, one-screen, Internet-based view of a patient’s laboratory
"Doctors want results, and they want them now," says Gornik, noting
that one of the first benefits of Netsteps will be to reduce the
percentage of tests that are needlessly reordered simply because
the results were not available at the moment of need. With the Internet,
of course, the point of need could be the patient’s bedside or a
doctor’s laptop anywhere on the planet.
Another advantage is privacy. Gornik concedes there is concern
when potential clients hear that such sensitive information is available
on the Internet. "There is a perception that records are more available
because they’re on the Internet," says Gornik. The reality is different:
Every record is scrambled in accordance with the current standard
for online commerce.
Gornik suggests test results protected by Netsteps’ system are
more secure than traditional paper records. With Netsteps software,
and its built-in HIPAA compliance, an audit trail of every medical
record is maintained. An inquiry about a VIP patient may even cause
the system to issue a special alert, warning a user that his or
her access of Senator McGuffin’s toxicology screen is about to be
recorded for posterity.
Netsteps customer Dennis Coon is more than satisfied. "It’s not
vaporware. It’s been a major boost. They delivered what they said
they’d deliver and a lot more," says Coon, associate director for
laboratory services at Central DuPage Hospital, Winfield, Ill. The
laboratory at Central DuPage, operating out of five locations, handles
each year 1.5 million billable procedures generated by the hospital
and a reference laboratory business of 100 clients in the vicinity
of the hospital.
"When we started," Coon recalls, "we weren’t sure what the final
product would look like. We just knew we had to do a better job
of getting the information to physicians." The hospital’s own information
systems people were deeply skeptical of Netsteps’ claim of being
up and running in 90 days. But Netsteps lived up to its promise.
Now the system is so popular that even departments or personnel
with their own computer systemsnurses, for example, or even
the laboratoryuse Netsteps software to look at their own data
through an Internet browser. Physicians who used the system in early
testing had no trouble with it, Coon says, because they were familiar
with how to browse the Internet. That cuts the training and handholding
that can accompany the installation of less intuitive, and more
proprietary, computer systems.
One of the novel benefits, he says, is in record keeping. With
paper, it is inevitable that a critical laboratory report will be
misplaced or misfiled. Netsteps allows him to retrieve that record
far more easily and cheaply.
Physicians who use the Central DuPage laboratory will soon be
able to access the laboratory’s test catalog on the Internet and
any other noticespayment and procedural changes, for example-the
lab wants them to have. "I have not found any other vehicle that
comes close to the Internet in delivering what we need to deliver
to physicians," Coon says.
The future, apparently, is here a bit sooner than expected.
Mark Uehling is a freelance writer in Chicago.