In this article, Lab Software points to a full blown Laboratory Information System capable of interfacing with laboratory alyzers, with external systems and internal optimal automation. More functionality the better.
Though the information here is equally applicable to hospital laboratories as well as to large national laboratories, yet I am specifically addressing small regional reference medical and physician office laboratories, including but not limited to small speciality and pathology laboratories.
Considering the scenario of a startup reference laboratory that is most of the times in shortage of the most important resource, the capital, is the best candidate of a high quality lab software. Lets start with obtaining the laboratory licensure from the Regulatory Agency to a smooth operation and all stages in between;
Laboratory Licensure: Technically there should not be need of a lab softwar, in order to apply and obtain the required State Licensure to perform the day to day analysis of patient specimens but Health Inspectors, while inspecting initially the laboratory, require the laboratory to have a lab software with appropriate result reporting capabilities and of course, with result entry, edit and correct test ranges at a minimum. at this stage, there is no requirement of any interface (analyzer or external system). Reporting of critical results of patients to their physicians, falls in a grey area, means if the lab software is equipped with this ‘Critical result reporting’ automated feature, is certainly helpfull otherwise the laboratory needs to have an affirm procedure to report critical results to respective physicians with proper logging the acivity on a manual basis. Simply note here if the lab software has the capability to perform the job automatically, can take the burden off of the laboratory shoulder, of employing a dedicated person for the job otherwise.
Day to day performance: Again this day to day performance is applicable to both of the new and existing laboratory. Consider a laboratory with a lab software without Analyzers interfaced, receiving an average of 50 CBCs (Complete Blood Count) and 50 CMPs (Comprehensive Metabolic Panel) per day. Simply calculate the time a data entry person would take to enter 1250 results with some typographical errors opposed to the lab software equipped with bidirectional interfaces where there is considerable time saving on part of the technologist and that of the data entry/result review person plus no typo error.
Retaining the business: With the emergence of EMR adoption by a lot of physicians and the wave supported by US Government with a substantial amount of money under which every physician is/would be able to acquire an EMR, totally free of cost, it is not only getting too hard for a new laboratory to get the business in this fast paced EMR market, existing laboratories without a modern lab software, are losing their existing business to ones who have it. Even the existing laboratory’s extremely loyal clients would select the day to day ease of business where lab orders go to the lab electrinically and results come back the same way.
Laboratory Billing: I can not think of a single laboratory that is in a position to have a substandard laboratory billing system or without a proper arrangement of her billing outsourced. A good lab software would have an integrated billing if considered in the context of a reference laboratory. A good integrated billing would possess the medical necessity implied with updatable CMS guided current edits, so to produce the electronic billing output with possible denials minimized. For such an important topic like laboratory billing, I will dedicate an entire article pretty soon.
Client and worker’s satisfaction: Beside providing above benefits, a modern lab software would provide a huge satisfaction to the laboratory’s clients and her employees.