After a physician’s office receives a new Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system, the business is primed to begin electronic exchange of clinical data with their imaging or laboratory service provider.
The benefits of electronic results include reducing errors due to manual entry, improving turn-around time for reporting, increased potential revenue due to greater efficiency and capacity and overall patient satisfaction.
One of the many challenges in interfacing to an EMR system, though, is patient identification and matching. Why? When electronic results go into an EMR system, they need to link to the correct patient record.
Due to the number of variables, the answer to any healthcare integration challenge is, “it depends.” The following examples provide a couple of options to resolve this patient matching challenge:
1. The Physician’s office sends manual requisitions and the EMR requires its patient ID/MRN on the electronic results.
If the information is accurately provided on the requisition, the patient ID is entered into the LIS or RIS as part of the order. When the HL7 result message (ORU) is generated, the system would include the patient ID. At this stage, there are three options:
- The LIS/RIS could be programmed to send the needed data in the correct location
- Interface tools could be used to re-map the data into the correct message format for the EMR
- The EMR system could be programmed to re-map or extract the data from a specified location
2. The Patient ID or MRN is not provided, but the EMR can match on other fields.
Without the EMR’s patient ID number, matching to the patient record can be accomplished with a combination of multiple pieces of data. Such as:
- Last name and DOB
- Last name and SSN
- Full name, DOB, and SSN
These combinations can be endless, but they need to be reasonable to implement and accurate in order to use.
The primary business goal behind interfacing to physician EMR systems is to have a nimble and adjustable workflow, and to be flexible enough to accept and send multiple HL7 message formats. Doing so will enable you to meet almost any interfacing challenges you are faced with.