Latest Version of ELINCS Lab Standard to be Released
Update follows pilot testing in five clinical settings
The latest iteration of ELINCS (version 1.1), a standard specification for transmitting laboratory results between clinical laboratories and electronic health record systems, will be released this month, according to the California HealthCare Foundation, which funded development of ELINCS. The release will reflect minor changes to ELINCS version 1.0 following several pilot implementations.
“Pilot testing in five diverse clinical settings during the last year has allowed developers to refine the standard and enabled testers to clearly understand the benefits the standard will offer,” said Sophia Chang, M.D., director of the Chronic Disease Care program at the California HealthCare Foundation. “A single, defined lab standard is fundamental to realizing the benefits of the electronic transmission of patient data.”
The pilot implementations involve national health information technology vendors and California health care organizations, including Laboratory Corporation of America, Quest Diagnostics, Ridgecrest Community Hospital, AllScripts Healthcare Solutions, e-MDs, GE Healthcare, Brown and Toland Medical Group, Cedars-Sinai Medical Foundation, and the Redwood Community Health Coalition. The pilot sites are using ELINCS to report real-time lab results in production systems and their progress suggests that ELINCS is a useful and widely applicable standard specification for the electronic reporting of results.
“ELINCS is based on a robust HL-7 framework, which will promote adoption of electronic lab reporting,” said Mitch Hansen, vice president of enterprise systems and services at laboratory vendor Quest Diagnostics, Inc. “The approach will provide value to health information exchange in the marketplace, as well as support the evolution and growth of interoperability in the future.”
Patrick Hall, vice president of practice management at e-MDs, an electronic health record (EHR) vendor, noted “Once widely adopted, ELINCS will cut down on costs of implementing new EHR systems. Ultimately, we’ll pass that cost savings on to customers.”
The EHR-Lab Interoperability and Connectivity Specification, or ELINCS, was developed by experts from commercial labs, electronic health record vendors, government agencies, professional associations, and nonprofit organizations. ELINCS standardizes the formatting and coding of electronic lab results and is part of the proposed Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT) certification criteria for 2007.
“As physicians acquire electronic health records, there’s a compelling need for standards for lab reporting for physicians as well as for laboratory vendors,” said John Tooker, M.D., M.B.A., executive vice president and CEO of the American College of Physicians. “Physicians can then be sure when they do purchase EHRs that they will be certified. It significantly improves the buying decision for EHRs,” he said.
Adoption of ELINCS will also enable providers to receive clinical data more quickly and make data in EHRs not only consistent, but readily searchable. This will prove useful in tracking patients with chronic health problems, such as diabetes or heart disease.
The ELINCS standard specification will enable health care providers to graph lab results from various vendors. It also promises to reduce costly redundancies in the clinical setting and provide a much-needed roadmap for linking up EHR systems with lab vendor information systems, a process that has proven costly and time-consuming in the past.
For more information on ELINCS, visit www.elincs.org through the link below.
About the California Health Care Foundation
The California Health Care Foundation is dedicated to advancing meaningful, measurable improvements in the way the health care delivery system provides care to the people of California, particularly those with low incomes and those whose needs are not well served by the status quo. We work to ensure that people have access to the care they need, when they need it, at a price they can afford.