Pathology Results in the Electronic Health Record

John F Hamblin, Phillip T Bwititi, Helen T Moriarty


This paper examines the issues that arise when transferring and displaying pathology data in electronic health records and determines strategies available to mitigate any risks involved in data transfer. A review was undertaken of the English-speaking literature on Australian government policy concerning electronic health records, the processes for transferring data to these systems, the ownership of pathology results once data leaves the domain of the laboratory information system and the types of failures encountered in data transfer and display of results.Published data indicates that the benefits of electronic health records outweigh the disadvantages. However, transferring pathology data using the standard Health Level 7 communication protocol can lead to errors in the translation of data and alter the subsequent display of pathology results and reference intervals. The responsible entity for assuring the accuracy of the display of pathology results in these applications is not always clear.Patient health information will increasingly be accessed from electronic health records. Some of the problems encountered with the transfer of pathology data can be eliminated or minimized if the intended use of the data in the electronic health record is considered when designing interfaced systems. However, the transference of pathology data in the electronic health record within a context that facilitates accurate interpretation remains challenging.


Pathology; HL7; Electronic Health Record; Laboratory Information Systems

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