CDC award to boost lab reporting

By Molly Merrill
01:07 PM

WASHINGTON – E-prescribing network Surescripts, the American Hospital Association and the College of American Pathologists have been awarded a $4.9 million grant to help hospitals submit electronic data on reportable lab results to public health agencies – a Stage 1 requirement for meeting meaningful use incentives.

The grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which was announced Feb. 21, will support the three organizations working together on what the CDC calls a "Lab Interoperability Cooperative."

During the two-year grant period, the AHA, CAP and Surescripts will recruit, educate and connect a minimum of 500 hospital labs – of which 100 are critical access or rural hospitals – to the appropriate public health agencies.

The network 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 NHIN Direct and NHIN Exchange) and message types such as HL7.

The cooperative will provide technical assistance to enable hospital labs to begin transmitting lab results electronically within six months, but officials said that assistance has not yet been defined.

The AHA will take the lead on educating hospitals about the project.

The CAP will "actively leverage our relationships with its 17,000 pathologists," said Debra J. Konicek, the college's director of clinical consulting and mapping.

The goal of the project is to assist hospitals to electronically report a core set of 75-100 lab reports to public health agencies, said Konicek. Hospitals are already required to report this, but the network will prepare them to do it in real time, she said.

Seth Foldy, director of the CDC’s public health informatics and technology program office, said electronic lab reporting to public health agencies will:

    • Increase the speed at which a public health agency becomes aware of and can respond to a communicable disease;

    • Improve reporting by removing the "human element;" and

    • Reduce the manual labor required by the hospital and the public health agency.

At the end of the project, hospitals' methodologies for reporting will be available to any health institutions that can use them, said Folds.