CDC: Lab staff essential to accurate EHR data

Well-designed and rigorously tested EHR systems can improve care by making it easier to collect, share and interpret patient data, according to a paper from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Laboratory data-related interoperability and usability issues, however, can result in preventable patient safety risks. 

Display discrepancies in EHR systems, such as variations in EHR system design, functionality and ability to exchange data accurately, serve as challenges but lab professionals are critical to ensuring the safety and effectiveness of laboratory data in EHR systems, according to the paper.

The CDC proposes that lab professional organizations and lab professionals focus on three areas--engagement, data integrity and usability, and innovation--to ensure the safe and effective use of laboratory information in EHR systems.

Regarding engagement, laboratory professionals can provide expertise for health IT decision-making in the design, development and implementation of EHR systems at both national and local levels, according to the CDC.

Laboratory professionals can guide and maintain data integrity and usability to ensure that laboratory data are accurately presented in the EHR and available at the point of care.

Laboratory professionals can partner with stakeholders to stimulate innovation in EHR technology and usability to reduce laboratory data-related errors attributed to the use of EHR systems. 

"Laboratory professionals have a unique opportunity to help create health IT systems that enable optimized healthcare decision making, improve the timeliness, consistency and quality of care, add value for providers and patients and save lives," according to the agency's paper. Lab professionals should educate themselves "on the promises and pitfalls of EHR systems, and proactively engage in creating the solutions essential to sustaining the transformation of the U.S. healthcare system."