WASHINGTON – A little known but major challenge facing modern medicine is a lack of interoperability—i.e., the ability to effectively share clinical data, and especially clinical test results, between different healthcare organizations. In an effort to solve this issue, AACC has released a position statement today that urges HHS to fund interoperability pilot programs and to incentivize its adoption, which would vastly improve the quality of care patients receive.
Read the position statement here: http://www.aacc.org/advocacy-and-outreach/position-statements/2023/interoperability-of-clinical-laboratory-results
The widespread implementation of electronic health records has made it much easier for healthcare institutions to record patient test results, to access this data, and to use it to make better-informed clinical care decisions. However, sharing this data between organizations is still surprisingly difficult. For example, if a patient switches providers, the two providers might use different laboratory instruments, laboratory information systems, and electronic health record systems that don’t generate or capture the same information and/or that don’t transmit the information in a standardized format. This means that errors can easily be introduced when the patient’s data is transferred between providers. This lack of interoperability has wide-ranging consequences, and is a hindrance not only to patient safety and care, but also to public health initiatives, as well as research aimed at developing new tests and treatments.
To facilitate data sharing amongst healthcare organizations, AACC calls on HHS to implement programs and policies that promote interoperability. To start, AACC recommends that HHS fund pilot programs that support interoperability and that assess its impact on quality of care and on clinical laboratories. Because achieving interoperability is such a complex undertaking, HHS should incentivize laboratory medicine professionals, healthcare providers, manufacturers, and other stakeholders to collaborate on establishing and adopting common data use practices and standards. HHS should also deliver financial incentives through value-based reimbursement programs, which could pay healthcare institutions for meeting certain interoperability performance requirements.
Separately, AACC urges Congress to continue to support the harmonization (also known as standardization) of clinical laboratory test results, as this is crucial to ensuring that test results can be aggregated and compared no matter where or when they’re performed.
“Laboratory medicine professionals are an integral part of the healthcare data ecosystem,” said AACC President Dr. Shannon Haymond, “and we can play a central role in the design, implementation, and testing of new approaches and tools to achieve interoperability. This is essential to advancing healthcare, as richer and more consistent sharing of laboratory test results would improve understanding for patients and clinical providers, significantly improve patient safety and clinical care efficiency, support public health, and facilitate groundbreaking research and innovative new diagnostics and treatments.”
Dedicated to achieving better health through laboratory medicine, AACC brings together more than 70,000 clinical laboratory professionals, physicians, research scientists, and business leaders from around the world focused on clinical chemistry, molecular diagnostics, mass spectrometry, translational medicine, lab management, and other areas of progressing laboratory science. Since 1948, AACC has worked to advance the common interests of the field, providing programs that advance scientific collaboration, knowledge, expertise, and innovation. For more information, visit www.aacc.org.