HealthLink launches electronic pathology ordering

HealthLink has launched its eLab electronic pathology ordering system on the Australian market.

eLab was originally developed as part of an international collaboration between HealthLink and Danish company Danish Medical Data Distribution (DMDD).

Called WebReq in Denmark, it has been up and running there for six years and is now used by all community-based practices and some hospitals to order more than 600,000 orders per month.

A trial of eLab is currently under way in New Zealand, where Wellington laboratory Aotea Pathology has installed the system at its own cost and is rolling it out to its referring doctors.

Since the trial started in November last year, the system has been rolled out to more than 40 practices, 460 doctors and 260 nurses.

“The numbers of orders is now increasing sharply, with 11,790 electronic orders received by Aotea Pathology laboratory in February 2012,” HealthLink’s eLab product manager, Colin Simmons, said.

He said the key benefits of electronic ordering are easy, fast lab-lab/procedure ordering, improved data quality with reduced cost of data input, and improved efficiency across the board. It also provides greater ease and efficiency for doctor, laboratory, patient and funder, he said.

“eLab is welcomed by busy GPs as it provides them key information which is inserted back into their local practice systems as the laboratory order is generated,” Mr Simmons said.

“This automatic feedback reduces the GP’s workload and therefore provides a good incentive to use this service.”

He said the laboratory gains by much-improved data quality and key information related to tests ordered.

“The ordering GP supplies this critical health information as a natural by-product of placing the order from his or her local desktop computer,” Mr Simmons said.

“The patient gains by always having the correct specimens taken for every test ordered and a much more efficient testing process, reducing the need for multiple doctor visits. All these gains are well documented in Denmark where the system has been in use for more than six years.”

Mr Simmons said eLab has achieved many of these objectives by adhering to standards. The system is designed in a way that allows all parties to progress naturally from their current local status to the desired regional or state and national status as and when this is promoted by health authorities.

“This is exactly how implementation proceeded in Denmark, a country which has been recognised internationally as a leader in eHealth.”

At the official launch of Aotea Laboratories' eLab system last year, a spokesperson said it would allow doctors to enter information directly into an online form that Aotea's laboratory systems can read and instantly make available to all its staff.

“Direct data entry into our systems greatly reduces the risk of human error from manual data entry,” the spokesperson said.

“The tool also lets doctors access relevant test information from Aotea Pathology.

“If ever required, the data can also easily be used by other service providers such as other laboratories. This is a planned fit with the government's move to by 2014 have patients' medical information available in a standardised data set that can be used in a range of electronic systems – wherever a patient needs to access it.

“Over time, we think the majority of laboratory requests from primary care will be made using electronic ordering.”

The spokesperson said future plans for eLab include using it for specialist referrals and interlab referrals.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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