Our EMR has a Lab Interface – What You Need to Ask an EMR and Lab Vendor

Posted on January 5, 2006 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

When purchasing our EMR we were told that you could get a lab interface with the EMR system. All sounded great, but there was so much information that we found out later. Here’s a few things we wished we’d asked when talking about a Lab Interface.

First, how much does it cost us for our EMR vendor to implement a lab interface. This is important, because usually the lab interface has to be customized to each client and often incurs a cost to the emr user. There are some possibilities that the EMR vendor will provide it at no cost. However, you must check it out. During the sales process the EMR vendor will most certainly say that they have built a lab interface with and that they shouldn’t have a problem doing it. This is great, but you need to know how much it costs.

Second, how much does it cost for your Lab vendor(or software program for in house labs) to interface with your specific EMR. Many labs may already have an interface with a certain vendor and offer this service for free. Also, if you are a large enough customer they may do it for free also. However, it all has to be negotiated and you don’t want to learn down the road that they want another $5k for their part because you chose a certain EMR vendor that they have never interfaced with before.

Third, you need to ask your EMR and lab if they can interface together. Usually this isn’t a problem because most people will use a standard HL7 interface. However, you don’t want to find out later they don’t.

Fourth, will your interface be able to run on your EMR server or do you need to purchase another server(or workstation) to host your interface? Many times the answer will be you could run it on the same machine. Anytime they say could that means you need to look at the pros and cons and decide for yourself whether you want them on the same machine. I personally reccomend having a redundant server for your EMR system and using that as the interface server. Kills 2 birds with one stone.

These are the major factors that we didn’t understand about an interface. In another post I’ll discuss bi-directional interfaces vs. uni-directional interfaces and why interface with a lab and costs to implement.