What’s an Interface?

I was browsing the internet and ran across a webpage that described an interface between MediNotes and Quest. It described how you could download the results from Quest’s website and then upload them into MediNotes. As far as I’m concerned that’s not an interface.

An interface receives the lab request and then passes the results back to the original system. I’m fine with talking about one way and bidirectional interfaces. Just have the result passed back or just have the request made. Although I don’t think that makes much sense with labs I can at least understand it. However, manually uploading the results yourself isn’t what I call an interface. It is Electronic Medical Record, but it’s not an Interface(at least not a good one).

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • AMEN!!! We were told that the EMR we bought had an interface but, in reality, it does not. You cannot send orders from it. As for the results … they are stored in the system but you cannot graph them or get any kind of a flowsheet without re-entering the values again. We’re definitely NOT happy campers about this!

  • I think I need to make a category of posts that are miscommunications with EMR vendors. In most cases you don’t find them lieing(although I’m sure there’s plenty of that too). Mostly it’s just a matter of 2 people understanding the question differently or more often not asking enough questions to understand what is meant by an interface.

    It sounds like they do have an interface, but only unidirectional which I find very ugly in the Lab world. Probably workable, but not pretty at all.

    The issue of not being able to graph your values or anything like that is a feature question with your EMR. Are you trying to graph results for all patients with that test or for the same lab done repeatedly for one patient? I think both could give some great information and should definitely be possible. What did your EMR say when you wanted this feature? Mine actually has at least one of the two and the second one I could do with their help if I needed to right away and couldn’t wait for them to develop it themselves.

    I will say that Lab Interfaces with EMR programs are Great, but quite painful to implement properly. Thankfully I have an EXCELLENT lab tech or I’d be working overtime in the lab(much like I’ve had to do in the pharmacy).

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