Why lab teams deserve great technology, too

Susan Eben, Allscripts - Print  | 

Behind every care plan are dedicated laboratory teams playing a vital role in healthcare.

 But labs and their technology needs are often overlooked. Labs are full of unsung heroes, and underestimating their contributions can limit organizations’ overall success. 

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Lab data is fundamental to delivering care and improving outcomes

Lab teams are behind the scenes, but they play a critical role in patient outcomes by providing invaluable data. Many diagnosis and treatment decisions are based on laboratory results. The first thing a physician often does when a patient enters the hospital is run labs. In fact, lab test results comprise the majority of the average patient's medical record.

Because many diagnoses are made with information from laboratory results, the ability of the lab to get the results out accurately and in a timely matter are a crucial part of the patient experience. The laboratory information system (LIS) collects orders, receives results from instruments and organizes and distributes the results so treatment decisions can be made. The reporting of accurate lab results is imperative for accurate diagnoses and treatment plans.

An increase in the aging population is expected to lead to a greater need to diagnose medical conditions, such as cancer or type 2 diabetes, through laboratory procedures. A growing patient-centered market means patients get to decide the testing and care they want, such as prenatal testing for genetic conditions. As new tests continue to be developed and as more personalized medicine is becoming the norm, laboratory services remain in high demand.

Technology needs are changing

Most areas of healthcare, especially labs, are being challenged to do more with less staff. Lab is one area facing workforce shortages. Technologists require the same level of education as nurses and must pass a national exam to obtain certification. The high level of training required contributes to shortages. In addition to many laboratory technologists retiring, it’s up to the LIS to help fill this gap. A LIS can reduce employee stress and burnout caused by vacancies.

As lab testing continues to become more complex, LIS technologies need to keep up with new procedures and evidence-based best practices, while continuing to provide ease of use. For example, let’s say lab results show a patient has low potassium levels, for which it would be appropriate to prescribe more. However, it’s important these decisions are based on accurate information because too much potassium can be lethal. A good LIS will provide clinical decision support to prevent potential errors throughout the entire lab process.

The LIS facilitates the entire process, including specimen collection, medical necessity checking, and results reporting and specimen tracking. Having a dependable LIS enables technologists to focus on more important issues, such as addressing abnormal results or questionable values.

The laboratory is an integral part of every healthcare system. A LIS must be able to keep up with the advancement in instrumentation and testing. The right lab technologies will help healthcare organizations to gain confidence that their systems are capable of supporting their long-term goals.

To learn more about Allscripts laboratory solution, Allscripts Lab™, read our brochure.

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Allscripts Blog: It Takes a Community

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