Electronic health records (EHR), electronic alerts, dashboards, middleware, LOINC, social media, mHealth—software, apps, and information technology (IT) are ubiquitous in our lives and in clinical laboratory medicine. Whether labs use middleware, alerts, and dashboards to analyze and improve the testing process and lab performance, or patient portals for consumer access to lab results, EHRs and all things IT have major roles in managing labs and the clinical testing process. Mobile health apps and social media also are entering the lab realm as patients seek tools and information to better manage their own health. 

Numerous sessions at the 68th AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo will give attendees insight not only into emerging areas of eHealth, but also provide playbooks for using informatics to better manage lab resources and boost patient safety.

For instance, the afternoon short course, The Opportunity to Integrate the Laboratory Into Patient Care Through Meaningful Use of Electronic Health Record (EHR), addresses the federal mandates for EHR adoption from the perspectives of industry, public health, and healthcare providers.

“The landscape of our nation’s healthcare is changing dramatically,” speaker Eugenio H. Zabaleta, PhD, of OhioHealth MedCentral Mansfield Hospital in Mansfield, Ohio, told CLN Stat. “This creates unique opportunities for laboratorians to provide greater value to the patient in several healthcare settings through the meaningful use of certified EHRs.”

Using the technology, he said, can enhance or improve individual patient care and safety as well as the provision of evidence-based medicine and public health data exchange, all without increasing healthcare costs.

However, Zabaleta added, there is a misconception that EHRs and computerized provider order entry (CPOE) are IT projects alone. “IT is very important, but it is just the tool. EHR and CPOE are about clinicians delivering care, communicating with all of the auxiliary services, and receiving meaningful information (such as laboratory results) to make the right decision to save patients’ lives.”

Zabaleta will also lead a brown bag session, Patient Access Portal: The Patient’s Window to Discover the Lab (44106), August 3 from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. (repeats as 54206 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.). Such portals have changed the patient/clinician dynamic by providing test results directly to the patient, often before they have even spoken to their physician, he said.

Laboratorians need to play a role in that dynamic by educating patients about test results and their implications, he said. Then, he said, “you can provide a value service to the patients and the healthcare system while becoming more visible to the patients.”

Unfortunately, he added, labs will have to fight to be included in the development and implementation of patient portals. “Yet we should be involved from the beginning because we can enhance the value of the lab information the patient is accessing.”

Brown bag sessions are limited to 10 participants and cost an extra $25 each.

Another session focused on patient engagement, In the Era of Digital Medicine, Patients Are Connected and in Control – What Does This Mean for Laboratorians? not only highlights patient engagement with clinical laboratories and healthcare through apps and patient portals, but also emphasizes the use of Twitter. In fact, this session will incorporate live Twitter presentations called Tweetups to seed discussions among attendees and others following the #DigitalLabMed hashtag.

The 68th AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo features numerous other IT-related sessions, including several brown-bag discussions:

Monday, August 1

In the Era of Digital Medicine, Patients Are Connected and in Control – What Does This Mean for Laboratorians?

Developing Electronic Alerts for Acute Kidney Injury in Hospitalized Patients

Utilizing Dashboard Capabilities in the Clinical Chemistry Core Lab and Outreach Settings

Tuesday, August 2

Social Media 101 for Lab Professionals: Leveraging Digital Resources and Developing Your Online IQ

The Art of Implementing and Maintaining LOINC and SNOMED CT in a Laboratory Setting

Value Focus: Middleware Can Be a Powerful Director’s Tool