There are a few menu objectives in meaningful use stage 2 that require reporting specific conditions to public health agencies and registries. To meet the menu objectives, there are two sets of data an EHR system would be reporting on and providing access to: data generated within the system itself, and data transmitted to the EHR from other entities, such as lab information systems, imaging systems and any data captured from HIEs.
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EHR systems are tools for primary care providers to maintain information and to give patients access to their health data. But many EHR systems are challenged by integrating and interoperating with external systems. Picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) and lab information systems don't always easily integrate with EHR packages, and IT spends time creating and implementing interfaces that may not always yield to a seamless flow of information.
Regarding medical imaging, many of the PACS in the marketplace are capable of processing orders and sending the results back to EHR systems. However, this is still a complicated task for EHR platforms because of the number of diverse imaging systems used within hospitals.
For some health systems, the use of a vendor neutral archive (VNA) has provided a single, consolidated archiving platform to host files from different PACS. The VNA can also connect to EHRs to provide them with the images, which helps reduce interfacing complexity and provides one common platform to which all outside entities connect for patients' comprehensive medical imaging information.
Reda Chouffani is vice president of development with Biz Technology Solutions Inc., which provides software design, development and deployment services for the healthcare industry. Let us know what you think about the story; email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact @SearchHealthIT on Twitter.