Key to Lab EMR Interface Projects

Last week I attended a formal, non-Pathagility  related event where we were seated randomly with individuals with varying backgrounds.  Among the group at my table was an investment broker, a restaurant chain owner, a non-profit director, and clinician at a pediatric practice.   The clinician (Kathy – for the sake of this post) and I were seated next to one another, and after discussing our work/organization backgrounds, we had a fascinating conversation about EMRs and lab interfacing. 

Following are some of the interesting perspectives taken from our conversation:

*It is always interesting to see and hear a physician’s or clinician’s response when the topic of EMR comes up.  Kathy’s first response was one of frustration even though it was evident that she saw the benefits of their moving forward with digitizing their current manual processes.

*Kathy’s clinic changed lab providers because one offered to build an interface to their EMR

*Kathy was frustrated with the length of time the Lab-to-EMR interface project was taking.  She didn’t know what was taking so long or what party was the bottleneck.  She assumed that it is very difficult technically to “make two different systems talk.”

*While Kathy has been a fan of their EMR vendor, she talked a lot about it being evident that this lab interface project was not a priority for their EMR. 

*Kathy also talked about “black holes” of communication

It was interesting to talk through Kathy’s perspective and it reemphasises the main key to projects like these – good communication.   It sounds simple, but doesn’t appear to be the norm.  Setting expectations is important including discussing each parties motivations.  In talking with Kathy, we discussed that the motivation of the lab was to earn/retain her clinic’s business.  They are paying for the interface including any expense/labor outside the work of the EMR team.  Certainly the EMR vendor wants to keep their client happy as well, but these projects add to an already large scope of responsibility.  Oh and by the way, there are a lot of these projects in progress and on the horizon!  (Our company has worked with Kathy’s EMR vendor and they were actually one of the more efficient at these types of projects. )

The bottom line is that Kathy is looking for consistent communication throughout the project.  While some systems are harder to connect than others from a technical perspective, that is not typically the issue with lab-to-emr interface projects if you have capable people involved.  For this reason, many labs and EMR vendors look to middleware companies who can focus on these projects and can provide a complimentary level of service and communication. 

Is this a common story from your perspective?

What are some other keys to successful lab interface projects? 

Who do you think is really good at managing projects like these?