A key communications specification for laboratory orders between office-based physicians and community health centers and hospital and commercial clinical laboratories has been completed, the California Healthcare Foundation has announced.
ELINCS lab order specification completed
The release closes the loop on the Electronic Health Record-Lab Interoperability and Connectivity Specification, or ELINCS, a project of the foundation that dates back to 2005 to standardize communications out of an electronic cacophony of standards and channels between providers and the labs they routinely use in patient care.
ELINCS Orders, as its name implies, aims to facilitate standardized orders between providers and labs and is the product of about a year of work, according to Glen Moy, the Oakland, Calif.-based senior program officer for the foundation.
“Now that Version 1.0 has been developed, we're going to start doing pilot implementations both here in California, and we're going to select some partner sites across the country as well,” Moy said. “We haven't finalized that list yet. We're probably kick off the pilots in early fall or this winter, with the plan of taking the feedback from those pilots and producing a Version 1.1, if you will. We're also looking at taking the specification and having it balloted through HL7 (Health Level Seven, a healthcare-oriented standards development organization) as a draft standard for trial use. That's going to take a while, so we're going to try to do the two in a slightly staggered approach.”
The first leg of the communications loop, called ELINCS Results, sought to standardize the electronic reporting of test results between labs and providers. It was completed in 2006 and has picked up between 50 to 60 provider organizations as adherents in California, according to Moy, but also has found users in Florida, Georgia and the Midwest. The specification also is being reviewed by several state-wide health information exchange organizations, he said.
The foundation served as a convener and coordinator of the effort to develop ELINCS that included multiple private sector participants, and also was the chief source of funding for the project. Foundation spending on both legs of the ELINCS project probably has run to about $3 million thus far, Moy said. The work, however, will be donated to the public without royalties, he said. “We made the investment for the public good,” Moy said.
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