In 2011, Sharp Healthcare partnered with aLabs to compete in the laboratory market. The IT department played a pivotal role in this new partnership.
The IT project kicked off October 4, 2011, and the existing vendor had to be transitioned out by November 1, which left the IT team 20 working days to complete the project. The scope of the work effort and the breadth of the information to be provided to the new aLabs applications required activity from almost every area of the IT department.
Staff from the interface team, the Cerner teams, network, desktop, site support, Lawson, Hospital Business Systems, customer support, technical assistance center, accounts, information security, patient care, telecom, and document imaging teams all had a role in this transition. During the four-week timeline, the IT and aLabs teams worked to establish connections between the Sharp and aLabs systems, swapping out devices from the previous vendor, adding new locations for draw stations, and facilitating new phone and data cabling and AT&T lines. New lab clinical data interfaces to the aLabs systems were developed and tested. New patient types were created and new billing interfaces implemented.
The IT team conducted security evaluations on protected health information sharing, business associate agreements were created and signed, and College of American Pathologists (CAP) and Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) certification reviews were coordinated. The team established new accounts, created new physician profiles in the faxing system, created new reports, and changed existing ones.
The new setup allows lab data to be sent outbound to aLabs for two purposes, going to two different systems. The first is a repository for operational data and is used to provide dashboards to lab management for efficiency monitoring and improvement. The second is used by the healthcare system for clinical reporting.
The data also populates a third-party portal. The healthcare system can use the portal as either a front-end or an interface source for physician office EMRs. Since finalization of this contract on November 1, some 455 new users have been added, 301 of whom have been using the portal. Further enhancements will provide electronic data entry of orders, from physician EMR systems, into the Sharp Lab system.
While the focus of this initiative was certainly increased productivity and revenue generation, quality and patient care were also important considerations. In the past, much of the lab data sent outside from physician offices didn't become a part of the patient record. Patients now benefit from having all data in their EMRs.