I’m a big fan of the folks at Dark Daily and got…hmmm how should I phrase this…FIRED UP when I read their most recent article called Sales of Electronic Medical Record (EMR) Systems to Physicians Will Double By End of 2012.  Frankly, the article covers a perfect example of why we founded Pathagility.  The overarching theme of the article is due to EMR adoption, “clinical laboratories and pathology groups are likely to need LIS upgrades.”

The article sites a Frost & Sullivan report that sheds light on the kind of EMR adoption that will occur over the next few years.  Here is an exert…

“Frost & Sullivan predicts a doubling of revenue in the ambulatory electronic health records (EHR) market between now and the end of 2012! Current annual sales of ambulatory EHR products will go from the current $1.3 billion per year to $2.6 billion by 2012. Annual sales are projected to peak at $3 billion by 2013. Then, because almost all of the nation’s physicians will be using EMRs, Frost & Sullivan estimates that, by 2016, the EMR market will shrink back to just $1.4 billion.

The article goes on to mention 4 challenges that pathology lab’s will face due to the increase of EMR adoption by referring physicians and hospitals. 

1.   Labs must spend $ on LIS-to-EMR interfacing

2.   Physicians may ask the lab to donate up to 85% of the new EMR

3.   Labs will need to hire adequate IT staff to deliver the large number of LIS-to-EMR interfaces

4.   LIS systems will need to support HIPAA 5010 and ICD-10

Many labs will struggle with the 4th item on this list because they have aged, often patched LIS systems that will  not support HIPAA 5010 and ICD-10.  “Physicians need that support from their laboratory provider in order to close the PHI (patient health information) data exchange loop, prove meaningful use, and get reimbursed.”  For this reason, Dark Daily states that many labs will need to upgrade their LIS systems.

Everything changes.  The fact is, this is only one example of how pathology labs will need to adjust their systems to support changes brought on by the continuing adoption of EMR.  Due to this reality, it will be critical that pathology labs work with systems that are more open and flexible to change.  SaaS products make a lot of sense in this environment, because system enhancements/adjustments can be made much faster than traditional systems.  In many cases, there is no additional fee for these enhancements as well. 

Once a pathology lab realizes it needs to make an upgrade or system change to support these new needs, there will most likely be some anxiety associated with this realization.  It will be important that the lab enlists the help of someone that can drive down risk and disruption.  Check out our recent post on Migration vs. Wholesale Replacement in the Lab.  It talks about the benefits of taking a staged approach to change and provides a case study example. 

We could go on and on with this post, and I have a feeling that we’ll follow up on it in the near term, but for now we will conclude with one more quote from the Dark Daily article…

“Those laboratories that can upgrade their LIS in appropriate ways are likely to find that they have a considerable advantage in the competitive lab testing marketplace.”

Please provide your thoughts on this topic.  Let us know if you agree or disagree.  Also, check out Dark Daily if you haven’t already.

Stay tuned…