Automated Electronic Lab Reporting Pilot for Infectious Diseases a Success

Date: May 8th, 2013Category: CORHIO e-NewsletterTopics: Public Health Reporting

San Luis Valley Regional Medical Center leads a project to transmit lab results to the state via CORHIO’s health information exchange network.

Three organizations worked together to successfully complete phase one of a pilot project to automate public health reporting of infectious diseases -- San Luis Valley Regional Medical Center (SLVRMC), Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), and Colorado Regional Health Information Organization (CORHIO). Electronic laboratory results from infectious disease tests conducted at SLVRMC have been securely transmitted from the hospital’s electronic health record (EHR) through the CORHIO health information exchange (HIE) to CDPHE, where the results are being evaluated against the pre-existing reporting methods.

To transmit the lab results, SLVRMC worked with a consultant to create a robust decision engine containing more than 10,000 rules that appropriately identified reportable conditions. The decision engine automated the process that previously required a human to recognize and manually enter reportable lab reports. At a basic level, the criteria include: whether the disease/diagnosis was on the list of those that require reporting, whether the patient tested positive, and whether the residence of the patient requires the test to be reported.

SLVRMC, CDPHE, and CORHIO are now in phase two of the project, with electronic lab reporting occurring in parallel with the pre-existing reporting methods. This allows for validation of the feed and adjustment of the rules engine as necessary to ensure accurate and timely reporting. Once the feed is validated and certified by CDPHE, it can replace the old reporting processes for all but a few reportable conditions.

Automating a Cumbersome Manual Process

When state-required lab reporting is automated, it eliminates the need for cumbersome and duplicative manual processes. Many hospitals and laboratories must currently task lab technicians and infection control practitioners with monitoring lab results and diagnoses and manually sending required information to CDPHE through a web-based portal. Automated reporting through CORHIO will save hospitals and laboratories money and allow technicians and infection control practitioners to use their skills and knowledge in more beneficial ways.

Helping Other Hospitals in the State

The success of this pilot means CORHIO can begin working more broadly with other hospitals and laboratories in the state to automate reporting. The goal is to automate and streamline public health reporting for as many hospitals and laboratories as possible, which increases the timeliness and accuracy of data reporting.

Other hospitals exploring electronic lab reporting with CORHIO may not need to create a decision engine like SLVRMC did because some of the most widely used integration engines are starting to incorporate this logic for Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements. However, if they do need to create an engine, it’s possible that the complex work SLVRMC and their consultant did could be applicable to other hospitals.

“The idea of being on the cutting edge of Health Information Exchange involving electronically submitting reportable conditions to CDPHE was presented to our laboratory,” says Mary Rice, MT, Laboratory Director of San Luis Valley Regional Medical Center. “We realized the amount of work this project would involve and weighed it against the gains for the patient and the state health department. Recognizing the long-term benefit for others, we had to say ‘yes, we will do this.’ Our staff pulled together, delegating the workload effectively as a team.”

“We appreciate our partnerships with the San Luis Valley Regional Medical Center and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and applaud their dedication in making this pilot a success,” says Larry Wolk, MD, CORHIO CEO. “Our goals are to make the process of transmitting clinical data as easy as possible for everyone involved and ultimately improve health outcomes for all Coloradans.” 

To learn more about this pilot project, please speak with your CORHIO representative or contact us at 720-285-3200 or For hospitals seeking more information from CDPHE on electronic lab reporting, please contact