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Past the Point of Care: Reaping Additional Value from Your Electronic Medical Record (EMR) Investment

May 18, 2016

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By Christopher Ianelli, MD, PhD, CEO, iSpecimen

The HITECH Act of 2009 put into place a number of federally-funded incentives to encourage the adoption of EMRs. The benefits of EMRs are clear – fewer medical errors, more coordinated care, and ultimately, lower costs. However, the time and money associated with implementing them has proven to be significant. In fact, cost is widely cited as the number one reason provider groups have avoided getting onboard, and even for those who have adopted the technology, cost is often regarded the most pressing pain point. Nevertheless, EMRs are here to stay, with provider adoption and utilization increasing steadily over the past five years. While the long term value of EMRs is undeniable, how can hospitals get more out of the investment now? One way to leverage the EMR is to use it past the point of care – for biospecimen procurement.

The wealth of data contained in EMRs can be de-identified and matched with corresponding biospecimens that flow through hospital labs. This coupling of data and specimens – such as blood, plasma, serum, or solid tissue – is hugely valuable to researchers looking for tomorrow’s diagnostics, treatments, and cures. By leveraging the EMR to procure specimens for research, not only is scientific discovery accelerated, but so is ROI to the hospital, as revenue generated from the specimen procurement service can be put back into hospital budgets. In fact, the value goes well beyond money, with realizations reaped hospital-wide, as detailed in this recent infographic.

iSpecimen’s cloud-based technology compliantly automates the entire specimen procurement process. By interfacing with hospital IT systems, we are able to plug into the EMR data, de-identify it in accordance with HIPAA, and pair it with associated specimens to match researcher requests. When a specimen match is made, our software instructs lab-based personnel to pick, pack, and ship the specimens to the scientists. Hospitals benefit three-fold – they contribute to biomedical research, they recoup some of the technology costs they’ve incurred, and they gain access to our specimen network for their own internal research, should they have a need. Further, studies show that patients are enthusiastic to contribute to research, with a recent study showing 83% are willing to donate their de-identified leftover specimens and nearly two-thirds are willing to donate an extra tube of blood.

Another technology trend sweeping the medical field is the emergence of Health Information Exchanges (HIEs), essentially conglomerates of EMRs that hold data from across multiple hospitals and care settings. We are seeing increasing interest from HIEs in implementing our program, further validating the value to organizations looking to maximize EMR investment in a forward-thinking manner.

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