In the ever-evolving healthcare landscape, tech-enabled innovation has been a game changer. This field has gained significant traction in recent years, and evidence can be seen at pathology conferences around the world. At the recent European Congress of Pathology held in my home city of Dublin, it was quite evident the push and desire to streamline and enhance the efficiency of digital pathology workflows is stronger than ever.
As part of that push, laboratories are increasingly turning to Laboratory Information System (LIS) integration to make their digital pathology world go around! In this blog, I explore the importance of integrating LIS into digital pathology workflows, steps to ensure success, and how this integration can transform the field of pathology.
Better together: The LIS + the enterprise pathology platform
The future of pathology has arrived, and it comes in the form of the enterprise pathology platform. It’s safe to say that the standalone image management system is dead. The days of basic image viewing, clunky UI, and poor quality image rendering are disappearing quickly. Instead, an enterprise pathology platform like Proscia’s Concentriq is now powering all aspects of routine workflows by unifying teams, data, and applications.
In tandem, Concentriq’s seamless linkage to the LIS ensures that the pathologist can fully benefit from the efficiency gains that digital pathology promises to deliver by displaying all relevant case information in one place. This can also help to improve confidence, as the pathologist has a more holistic view. And finally, as technology continues to advance, LIS integration will play an even bigger role in orchestrating AI within the digital pathology workflow, as information stored in the LIS can trigger different applications to run.
Solving the puzzle
As critical as LIS integration is, the process of integration comes with its own set of challenges, challenges that should be viewed as opportunities to tailor the integration to meet specific laboratory needs. For example, it may require some configuration and effort to ensure that the LIS and enterprise pathology platform work together seamlessly. This integration process, however, fosters collaboration between IT experts and pathologists, leading to innovative solutions that enhance the overall workflow efficiency. The intricate compatibility puzzle is a stepping stone toward a more integrated and efficient pathology lab.
When it comes to Concentriq, the platform’s powerful API allows customers to integrate their LIS through the ability to receive message formats such as HL7, XML, and FHIR. Here are some of the steps that we take to ensure a seamless integration that meets the needs of each specific laboratory.
- Infrastructure Analysis: Initially, a comprehensive assessment of the existing LIS and pathology technical infrastructure helps to identify requirements and potential bottlenecks. It’s crucial to understand the specific data workflows, storage needs, and security protocols that will keep sensitive patient data safe and compliant with healthcare regulations.
- Custom Integration Blueprint: Post-evaluation, a bespoke integration plan is drafted. This blueprint is crucial for maintaining the integrity of data exchanges between the LIS and the enterprise pathology platform. It involves custom middleware and API strategies ensuring seamless, real-time communication between systems, accommodating unique data types ranging from patient records to multimedia pathology assets.
- Data Migration and Standardization: If required, a meticulous process where legacy data is migrated to the unified platform is carried out. This phase involves data cleansing, duplication removal, and format standardization, adhering to medical data norms like HL7 or FHIR, ensuring uniformity and accuracy in the newly converged environment.
- User Interface Configuration: To drive high adoption rates, the interface requires configuration, incorporating user feedback from pathologists and technicians. The goal is an easy-to-use design that simplifies interaction with complex data retrieved from the LIS directly within Concentriq.
- Testing and Feedback Analysis: Before full-scale deployment, we conduct robust end-to-end testing within a select department or function. This includes first gathering user feedback on system performance, interface usability, and data accessibility and then adjusting the integration parameters accordingly.
- Full-Scale Implementation and Continuous Support: Post-successful testing, we proceed with the laboratory-wide rollout. This phase is coupled with extensive training sessions, user manuals, and a dedicated technical support team to ensure smooth adoption. Continuous monitoring and system upgrades are essential, offering adaptability with evolving medical standards and technologies.
Through this meticulously planned deployment, the synergy between the LIS and Concentriq will help to usher in operational efficiencies, enhanced confidence, and ultimately advance the practice of pathology.
Training: Empowering Pathologists and Staff
The integration itself is one (big) piece of the puzzle. It’s also essential to ensure that pathologists and staff can benefit from all that it offers. Training, while initially disruptive, is an investment in human capital. It equips pathologists and laboratory staff with the skills and knowledge necessary to navigate the integrated system effectively. This not only enhances their confidence and proficiency but also empowers them to fully utilize the system’s capabilities. Training sessions can also serve as collaborative forums for sharing best practices and innovative ways to leverage the integrated system, leading to continuous improvement in workflows. The short-term disruption paves the way for long-term efficiency gains and professional growth.
Investing in Future Efficiency and Confidence
While implementing and maintaining an integrated system can be challenging, viewing it as an investment in the future pays dividends over time. The initial time investment helps to streamline workflows, reduce manual errors, and improve confidence. Over the long term, these efficiencies can translate into cost savings through reduced turnaround times, fewer repeat tests, and enhanced resource allocation. In short, the integration of LIS into digital pathology workflows by way of the enterprise pathology platform isn’t just an expenditure; it’s a strategic decision that should ultimately yield a positive return on investment.
By running towards these challenges with a positive perspective, laboratories can navigate the integration of LIS into digital pathology workflows more effectively and reap the numerous benefits it offers. Each challenge is an opportunity to enhance operations, security, skills, and efficiency, ultimately contributing to the advancement of healthcare.
Would you like to connect with one of our LIS integration experts? Reach out to start a conversation.