I have posted two notes recently about how to improve communications between lab personnel and test-ordering health professionals (see: Need for Improved Communication Channels between Clinical Labs and Users; More on Lab Communication with Test-Ordering Physicians and Nurses). This last one prompted the following comment by Jonathan Horan:
This is really topical right now among the lab. At a lab executives' roundtable I arranged at the AACC this year, the issue of communication came up. We discussed the frustration of family doctors ordering tests that could be duplicate or inappropriate and how the lab might be more proactive in optimizing two ends of the spectrum: the orders transmitted to the lab and the interpretation of the results sent back. Participants felt that there needed to be a sort of "conversation" between the lab and the ordering physician - probably mediated with some combination of middleware/LIMS/EHR. It all came down to communication and how the laboratory is somewhat isolated in its current function, and how improving it is central to becoming part of a value-based care system.
I really like Jonathan's idea of viewing lab communications as conversations that have a dual purpose: helping the test-ordering clinician order the most relevant and appropriate tests and also assisting with the interpretation of the test results. In so doing, the lab client becomes better informed, the quality of patient care is improved, and, often, the cost of lab testing is reduced. The more I think about it, the more I also like Branko Perunovic's idea of memorializing conversations between lab personnel and clinicians in the LIS/EHR (see: More on Lab Communication with Test-Ordering Physicians and Nurses).
You may recognize his lab consultation app as a variant of the "live chat" option which is a common on web sites such as B&H Photo (see far upper right corner of web home page for the live chat option). This comparison of camera sales with lab test ordering is apt because the purchase of a camera can require a high level of technical expertise. At the end of B&H "keyboard" conversations, the entire two-way record is emailed to the customer for later reference. Such a live chat feature as it applies to lab consultations also enables the lab professional to paste links to relevant articles about the question at hand into the record.