Streamlining Laboratory Interfaces
Laboratories, hospitals, imaging centers, and clinics are all faced with the demand of providing health data interfaces at unprecedented rates. The rising demand is due to Meaningful Use requirements, streamlining workflow, and efficiently establishing productive relationships with the referring medical community.
Today, there are two approaches to interfacing:
- Create point-to-point interfaces with application vendors
- Select an interface engine solution to connect all internal and external applications
Examples of the types of applications requiring interfaces include Electronic Medical Record (Electronic Medical Record (EMR), as defined in Defining Key Health Information Technology Terms (The National Alliance for Health Information Technology, April 28, 2008): An electronic record of health-related information on an individual that can be... More), Laboratory Information System (Laboratory Information System (LIS) is an information system that receives, processes, and stores information generated by a medical laboratory processes. LIS is often interfaced with HIS and EMR applications. Synonyms: Laboratory Information System), Hospital Information System (Hospital Information System (HIS) is the main system in a hospital used by most caregivers. Sends ADT broadcasts to all ancillary applications. The HIS is typically the patient administrative system and order entry system for a hospital. Synonyms: Ho... More), Radiology Information System (Radiology Information System (RIS) is the main application in an imaging center or radiology department. RIS is used by to store, manipulate and distribute patient radiological data and imagery. RIS are used for patient scheduling, tracking, and imag... More), Dietary, Picture Archiving Communication Systems (PACS) are devoted to the storage, retrieval, distribution, and presentation of images. The medical images are stored in an independent format, most commonly DICOM. Synonyms: Picture Archiving Communication Sys... More, Emergency Department, transcription, and many others.
Determining the most effective approach for healthcare integration has a long-term impact on an organization’s physician-outreach programs, workflow efficiencies, operational costs, and overall client support.
Healthcare interfacing overview
To facilitate communication between two healthcare applications, a modest interface includes:
- An export endpoint for the sending application
- An import endpoint for the receiving application
- A method of moving data between the two endpoints
- A method for handling the queuing messages
- A method for logging the flow of messages
HL7 is a Standards Developing Organization accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to author consensus-based standards representing a board view from healthcare system stakeholders. HL7 has compiled a collection of message form... More is the most widely used data standard to facilitate the communication between two or more clinical applications. The prime benefit is that HL7 simplifies the implementation of interfaces and reduces the need for custom interfaces.
Below is a simple interface between a lab’s center’s LIS and a hospital’s EMR.
Taking this example a step further, below is the same LIS and EMR systems but with the added capability in both applications to import and export data.
Logic tells us that each healthcare application must grant access to accept and send patient data and have rules of what it will accept and what it will send. This access to data is usually tightly controlled by each application vendor to ensure data integrity within their application.
Both of these examples are simple: one application exchanging data with another. However, the world of healthcare is not that simple. There are multiple applications and multiple providers in a healthcare organization and community. Each additional application and provider added to the network increases the interfacing complexity exponentially.
The complexity increases due to the hard- and-fast rules about how each application and provider will send and receive data. One “blue box” export interface will not meet the requirements of every application. Similarly, one “yellow box” import interface will not meet the requirements of every application.
A point-to-point interface is one in which the receiving vendor provides a specification on what data it can receive and in what format it needs to be in. The sending application then builds an interface to that specification for that application. It is a one- to-one relationship. For each application requiring an interface, there is a new request and point-to- point interface developed.
Illustrated below is a point-to-point interface environment.
Interface engine approach
An interface engine can transform or map the data according to the receiving application’s requirements so the data can be used by the receiving application.
Essentially, the import and export module from the sending application is built in a very comprehensive manner, capturing all potential data to be used in one interface. The application interface is built with a one-to-many concept in mind. These import/export modules then are connected to an interface engine so that the mapping, routing, and monitoring are managed by this system.
Illustrated below is an interface engine environment.
The ROI of interface engines
There are multiple ways an interface engine can help you leverage your organization’s investments.
Meet Meaningful Use requirements
Corepoint Integration Engine allows providers to exchange data using common standards used in healthcare including Consolidated Clinical Document Architecture (CDA) HL7 CDA uses XML for encoding of the documents and breaks down the document in generic, unnamed, and non-templated sections. Documents can include discharge summaries, progress notes, history and physical reports,... More and The Direct Project was launched by the ONC within Health and Human Services (HHS) on March 1, 2010. It was initially called NHIN Direct. The object of the Direct Project is to replace the use of faxes, phones, and paper transactions with a simple and... More, the two standards required in Meaningful Use.
One-payment to application vendors
The sending application (LIS, HIS, RIS) needs to be opened up to export and import data. These interfaces can be a one-time fee if they are defined broadly enough so that the interface engine has access to all possible data fields needed to map and transform the data to meet each application’s data specifications.
Independence and control
With an interface engine, new interfaces to applications and providers can be designed and implemented with the provider’s staff. Greater control over interfaces is gained by the providers, decreasing the reliance on application vendors for each and every interface.
Shortened cycle time
Implementing interfaces is completed on your time schedule, not the vendors. Typically, with an interface engine, interface development and deployment cycle time is shortened from 6–12 months to 1–2 weeks. This gives imaging centers, laboratories, and hospitals a competitive advantage in reaching out to the referring community and delivering quickly to meet their EMR requirements.
Map and route messages for workflow and application requirements
Any data format that is sent or received can be transformed into the right format for any application. No modifications are required by each application vendor each time a new data specification is received. Business processing rules can be implemented to enhance and streamline workflows within the provider’s organization and externally.
Ease of monitoring and management
To keep customer support costs low, interface implementations should be easy to monitor to ensure consistent data flow. Track the uptime of critical interfaces, resolve issues proactively, and quickly fix issues through Corepoint Integration Engine.
In a modern health IT environment, the number of needed interfaces will grow over time. An interface solution must be able to grow with the demands of your growing business.
About Corepoint Health
Corepoint Health solutions deliver interoperability for healthcare organizations and simplify the complexities of healthcare data through practical software applications, consulting and training. Our innovative and proven software solutions leverage clinical data flow efficiently for a diverse group of healthcare entities including hospitals, imaging centers, laboratories, clinics and healthcare vendors. This next generation approach to healthcare data and streamlined workflow is where Corepoint Health specializes in helping customers discover the power of integration.