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Information Integration in the Practice

Posted By Christine Shupe, Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Is your practice data trapped within multiple silos? Silos are created when information is maintained in distinct systems and is not automatically shared or communicated from system to system. Silos can hamper operations because the flow of information is inhibited, resulting in redundancy of data entry, lost information and breakdowns in communication.


VHMA took a look at how practices share critical information in the practice in its April Insider’s Insight survey.  With 299 individuals responding, the results reveal that the survey population is more likely to be information integrators than separatists.


Most respondents (80 percent) have integrated their practice management software with in-house laboratory equipment. Nine percent reported that the practice has not integrated these systems. Of the nine percent, 34 percent explained that current software does not allow integration. Fifteen percent said that laboratory equipment does not support it and 11 percent do not know why.


Respondents believe that integration of software and laboratory equipment is either important or very important (95 percent). A small percentage said it is not very important (three percent) or not at all important (two percent).


In response to a question about whether practice management software is integrated with reference lab equipment, 83 percent said that it is. Fifteen percent report no integration. The top reasons for not integrating the two is due to software that does not support integration (45 percent), 21 percent have not integrated for security reasons and 12 percent said that they did not know integration is possible. Seventy-seven percent of respondent felt it was very important to integrate project management software with the reference lab.


When asked to describe how integration between software and labs impacts customer service, the answers most commonly provided are that integration saves times, provides quick results to clients and allows staff to spend time on other tasks. Some respondents focused on the ease of getting information to clients because all records are readily accessible. Respondents also reported that it improved efficiency in the practice and allowed the practice to streamline operations creating a better client experience. Others noted that integration decreased human error and eliminated the potential for missed charges. A small number believed that there are no advantages to integration.


When asked to comment on the overall advantages of integration, respondents listed responses similar to those identified in the previous question.


Responding to a question about integration with reference labs and the impact on quality of care, respondents highlighted the timeliness of the information and improved accuracy of information, which ultimately results in better patient care. Another common response was that integration allowed professionals to identify and track trends in patient records.


If you want to eliminate data silos, it is highly recommended that order diagnostics from within your practice management software. By doing this your test requests and results will flow back and forth automatically. Talk with your in-house and reference laboratory companies to understand the latest integrations available based on your current software version. Many of these software integrations can be installed by diagnostic field technicians who can set them up for you at no charge.


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