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Lab Tech Standards, With Benefits

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, April 16, 2013

When we can spare a moment to look up from the immediate benefits, standards such as LOINC have an even brighter future. "There are many secondary uses as well," Vreeman says. Among them:

  • Pooling data for electronic quality initiatives
  • Writing decision support rules
  • CMS reporting
  • Reporting to public health agencies trying to track STDs or other diseases on the public health radar

One other bit of good news Vreeman shared with me: Some independent labs are already able to include LOINC codes with the results they return to providers.

To me, that's a remarkable testimony to the power of standards whose time has come. As far as I'm aware, independent labs are not eligible for Meaningful Use incentive money. They are vilified as money mills who are happy to crank out the next duplicate test result.

To me, it's the power of the market—that's the power of you, the reader—finally, relentlessly convincing the sellers to listen to the buyers, to deliver the actionable data they demand. As we move further toward patient-centered care, and further toward value-driven care, that's where technology should be headed, and apparently, already is.


Scott Mace is senior technology editor at HealthLeaders Media.
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1 comments on "Lab Tech Standards, With Benefits"


flpoggio (4/16/2013 at 9:50 PM)
Many good points in this piece, and as you say LOINC codes will be a big help. Yet I have two issues with it: "And the EHR vendor is not required to sell the interface any more cheaply to the second, third or later customers of that same interface." – True but we don't seem to have a problem with Microsoft or Apple charging for each version of their op system, or apps, etc. As a former software developer I have always found this argument unsupportable. Why do you pay $10 for a music CD when it really only costs $1 to copy a disk and package it? Why do you pay $1.00 for an app that costs almost nothing to reproduce? Fact is there is much more that goes into reproducing it than just making or electronically transmitting a copy. Anyone that thinks there are no costs involved after you wrote the initial version has never developed a line of code, or worked in a systems development environment. Secondly, "For the first time, EHR vendors will be required by regulation to disclose the costs of these custom interfaces before you, the customer are required to purchase them.ยด- this is not true at all. Under Stage 2 the vendor must only list the resources needed to complete the install. Dollars do not need to be listed with the resources. The original Stage 2 draft proposal did ask for a price, but in the final version that requirement was dropped. In my opinion it is a meaningless and useless requirement in so much as any CIO that can't list from memory what the typical cost/resource component of installing an EHR are shouldn't be a CIO. Frank Poggio The Kelzon Group