The California HealthCare Foundation has upgraded its Electronic Health Record-Lab Interoperability and Connectivity Specification, or ELINCS, a collaborative effort to standardize the electronic transmission of clinical laboratory data between labs and providers EHR systems.
The ELINCS project was launched by CHCF in May 2005 with input from IT vendors and major lab corporations, with release of version 1.0 of the specification in October 2005. Later that year, CHCF awarded grants totaling $600,000 to five hospital and physicians groups to field-test the specification, which has been adopted by the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology for inclusion in its 2007 testing criteria for electronic medical records systems.
The latest release reflects what CHCF termed minor changes to version 1.0 based on lessons learned from the pilot implementation sites, which are using ELINCS to report real-time lab results in production systems, according to the foundation.
The specification and information about ELINCS are available at elincs.org. The announced changes come on the eve of Fridays meeting of the federally funded Health Information Technology Standards Panel, which is expected to approve a series of standards specifications, including a specification for moving lab data to an electronic medical-records system. HITSP will forward its recommended standards to the American Health Information Community, a federal advisory panel on healthcare IT formed by HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt last year.
HITSP, apparently, will not recommend using ELINCS, which does not sit well with the American Clinical Laboratory Association, a trade group for the nations reference labs and which supports ELINCS.
I think it, unlike anything else out there, has the strongest possibility of being used tomorrow by physicians and clinics across the country, said Jason DuBois, vice president of government relations for the ACLA.
DuBois said ACLA members will be sending letters to the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology and AHIC in support of ELINCS. CCHIT, though it is expected to add ELINCS to its 2007 testing criteria, is considering moving in 2008 to the HITSP specification, which is used in Europe but not in the U.S.
ACLA members prefer "using the ELINCS specification because its on the ground running, its not this pie in the sky stuff, DuBois said.