Electronically Signed Lab Results in Your EMR

My guess is that many of you are using an HL7 interface between your EMR and your lab. How does your EMR handle the signing of lab results?

We worked for an entire year testing, making requests, testing, more requests and more testing before we were able to launch an interface between our lab and EMR, but it’s been one of the best things we’ve done. The reason it took so long is the topic of another post, but it was for good reason.

One of the best advantages to a lab interface with your EMR is that you don’t have to worry about what to do with all those paper labs that you’ve signed. Inevitably all those signed paper labs will have to be scanned and attached to a patient in your EMR.

Really, that’s why a lab interface is so much better. The interface inserts the lab info right into your EMR so you don’t have to worry about:
1. Losing your lab results (before or after you sign it)
2. No need to scan your signed lab results into your EMR
3. You can run really cool reports on the data from those labs in your EMR (ie. blood sugar change over time)
4. Most EMR will notify you that there are lab results to read, so there’s no more waiting for the paper to somehow make it to you

In our EMR, a lab result gets easily signed off with the click of a check mark. Actually our labs our grouped into batches according to labs that were ordered at the same time. This makes it so all our lab results appear on one nice lab report as opposed to one lab report per lab. All doctors have to do is highlight all the labs and click “Mark as Read” and that whole batch of lab results are signed electronically in the EMR.

Of course, many of you will probably ask how we handle abnormal results. Well, I guess you’ll just have to wait to learn about that.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of 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.


  • Additional advantages of the Lab Interface are these:

    1: Dr. X is on vacation for a week. The interface administrator allows you to defer those labs to another provider to address. You can even split the work load up by deferring lab 1 to Dr. Z, Lab 2 to Dr. A, Lab 3 to Dr. B and so on until Dr. X returns from vacation.

    2: The interface nearly mistake proof. What I mean is, once set up properly, it takes the “human element” out of play. It doesn’t get distracted by a phone call or an interruption. The lab gets put in the correct chart because of a matching filter that uses specific demographic items to match the lab with the patient. We use exact first name, last name, date of birth, and gender. You can make it even more specific by adding, clinic ID#, SS# if you wish. Even if you have more than one patient with the exact name, BD, Gender, the lab interface will hold the lab and notify a predetermined staff member to look at the lab, and determine the correct patient’s chart in which to place the lab. When I round at the hospital or reflect back to our paper chart days, I’d inevitably find a lab result in a patients chart that didn’t belong to that patient. I’ve even seen physicians act on that lab result mistakenly thinking it belonged to the patient in which chart it was reviewed. So big safety and medical error improvement.

  • Clyde,
    Thanks for reminding me about the value of a lab interface. Sometimes after a while you start to take things like this for granted.

    In our case we have a two way lab interface and so we have 100% accuracy since it results it directly back to the same request.

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