The American Hospital Association, the College of American Pathologists and Surescripts is seeking hospital participation for a program that will electronically connect hospital laboratories with public health agencies.
AHA, CAP and Surescripts are participating in what is called the Lab Interoperability Cooperative, a project funded by a grant funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The project is intended to help hospital labs meet criteria established by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology for meaningful use of electronic health records. This criteria includes submission of electronic data on reportable laboratory results to public health agencies. During the two-year grant period, the LIC will recruit, educate and connect to the appropriate public health agencies a minimum of 500 hospital labs – at least 100 will be critical access or rural hospitals.
Establishing this connection will enable hundreds of hospitals to engage in electronic reporting that helps public health officials act more rapidly and efficiently to control disease. Application is open to all U.S. hospitals, including critical access hospitals located in rural parts of the United States. Hospitals interested in participating in this project may register by visiting www.labinteroperabilitycoop.org and clicking on and completing the “Phase I Checklist” by April 29, 2011.
By engaging hospital labs, which handle the majority of lab tests in the United States, the LIC represents a unique opportunity to advance lab interoperability with public health agencies and the nation’s health care system overall. The LIC will provide the necessary educational and technical assistance to enable those hospital labs selected to participate in the program to begin electronically transmitting lab results.
Electronic laboratory reporting has many benefits, including improved timeliness of reporting, reduction of manual data entry errors and reports that are more complete. Electronic laboratory reporting has been promoted as a public health priority for the past several years, and its inclusion as a meaningful use objective for public health serves as a catalyst to accelerate its adoption. While technical standards exist to enable the electronic exchange of lab results, commercial labs, hospitals and providers have implemented and make use of these standards on a limited basis.
Based on the Surescripts Network for Clinical Interoperability, the LIC will support all federal and state policies and standards for health information exchange, including privacy and security standards (such as HIPAA and state law), technology interoperability standards (such as Direct), and message types such as HL7.