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EMR: THE ESSENTIAL ROLE OF THE LABORATORY


By Doug Hinds, Implementation Co-Ordinator, MEDITECH, South Africa


E


lectronic Medical Records (EMR) have been in existence for more than three decades. However a new impetus to


improve patient outcomes and safety and reduce costs has resulted in a wider scale adoption in recent years. This momentum being supported by advances in technology and increased acceptance by clinicians. The goal of the EMR is to provide


clinicians with comprehensive, relevant, timely and accurate information to make key clinical decisions and interventions by seamlessly placing orders for additional diagnostics and treatment. It combines local and remote data to provide a single view of real-time patient information from across the continuum of care. Together with other integrated applications it streamlines the clinical workflow with many functions automated to improve turnaround times and quality. Patient safety is improved through evidence based decision support, quality management and outcomes reporting. This reality brings with it new challenges for laboratories, as laboratory results play an essential role in the make- up of the EMR. Laboratory transactions make up the largest portion of information that goes into the EMR. In fact, as much as 60% to 70% of the EMR’s clinical data originates in the laboratory. Of utmost importance is the ability


to review and trend data from multiple sources and receive automatic alerts of critical and abnormal results. For clinicians to realize the full potential of the EMR there needs to be tight integration and interoperability with a new generation of Laboratory Information Systems (LIS).


INTEGRATION A high level of integration between an EMR and LIS enables them to share data and complex, nuanced linkages. It avoids the use of costly and problematic


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