While reading the offerings of this pathology event, we came across a list of major current trends, which include:

  • A growing emphasis on the continuum of care
  • Increasing patient interaction directly with the lab organization (think portals)
  • Mounting demands of interoperability across a proliferation of disparate IT systems

From a lab data perspective, the second two bullets are the most intriguing ones and they’re related. The “increased patient interaction from labs” point is supported by the growing demand for patient portals.  To establish a portal, however, a lab must create an interface to push patient results. As we’re all about keeping the focus on the patient at C4, we’re very enthusiastic about engaging on projects to enable such portals.

So, why the increase in patient portals? It seems that the obvious reason lies in what people frequently experience when they go to their doctor to get a test.  Many healthcare systems post the results online and shoot an email to the patient when available. For labs that don’t currently offer this kind of capability, they will need to soon to stay competitive.

On the third point of “mounting demands of interoperability,” this is related to the ability to effectively interface. Over the past few months, we’ve had multiple inquiries about portal solutions from our clients and prospects. We can sometimes, if appropriate, provide a portal with our Portra solution or we can recommend a third party.

One of these vendors is LuminateHealth which specializes in creating that bridge between lab and patient. They provide a whole front end for patients and we recently provided an interface to them for one of our clients. Fortunately, they were highly capable of assisting in the interface creation process. This isn’t always the case, based on our experience, considering the challenges we’ve faced in working with certain vendors.

The most common interface in our space is lab-to-provider but there have been new emerging types of interfaces needed. One recent type that cropped up this past year is for Covid-19 state reporting.  Each state has their own specifications which can make wrangling interfaces to them a challenge. For all interfaces, though, the big question about them is: can one get the right information out of it?

To address these technical needs, an LIS should be capable of providing the precise output necessary to meet the demands of a portal, for example. One quality that’s needed to accomplish this is the ability of an LIS to appropriately store discrete data (which is explained here). This is vital to any effort to export through interfaces.

To meet these emerging needs, many labs need to assess their LIS to determine if it is modern enough to keep up with growing needs. Keeping the LIS as modern as possible leads to more business opportunities. Otherwise, labs get left out in the cold unable to secure new business as is arises. We’d prefer to keep our clients warm this winter and keep them out of the cold.