What Should I Know About Interfaces?

A key quality of care benefit of an EHR is its ability to create, send out and track the provider’s orders and then electronically review and route the results of those orders into the patient’s record. Due to many national efforts, HL7 standard language is used to create these interfaces. When the interfaces communicate back and forth with your EMR, results can be provided to the clinician for review prior to posting into the patient record.

Some specialties receive as much as 70 percent of health care information from outside sources, including information from hospitals, labs, diagnostic imaging centers, payers, referring physicians, patients and pharmacies.

The most common interfaces to manage that flow of patient information include:

» Practice management system
» In-house and outsourced Labs
» Medication management (in house pharmacy or e-prescribing)
» Pathology
» PACS (picture archiving and communication system)
» Inbound faxes (typically comes with the EMR)

Step 1 – Build an Interface Schedule

Lab interfaces take the most time to coordinate. Contact your lab representative at least 90 to 120 days before you plan to go live on the system.

The vendor’s e-prescribing component must be certified (such as by CCHIT or SureScripts/RxHub) for you to participate in CMS’ e-prescribing Reimbursement Incentive program. You may want to use the e-prescribing component early in your training.

Your EMR vendor will work with you to coordinate the interface with your PM system. Count on 60 days if they have interfaced with your PM system. Add 45 to 90 days if this is their first interface with your PM system.

Step 2 – Test the Interfaces

Fifteen to thirty days before training test the interfaces to see if you can:

» Order a lab test from the EMR to the Lab
» Receive results from the Lab into the EMR
» Produce a billable encounter into your PM system. Lab systems often push multiple bills for the same encounter. Do NOT skip this step.

Step 3 – Approve the Interfaces

Zero to fifteen days before training approve the interface and move it into production.

Step 4 – Move the Interface into Production

Your vendor will work with you to move your interfaces into production for training and go-live.

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