Laboratory information system data extraction and re-use: opportunities and challenges

Posted On 2017-10-26 09:10:04

Laboratory information system data extraction and re-use: opportunities and challenges

Christopher R. McCudden1,Matthew P. A. Henderson2

1Department of Pathology & Lab. Medicine, Division of Biochemistry, 2Department of Pediatrics, Division of Metabolics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada

Correspondence to: Christopher R. McCudden, PhD, DABCC, FACB, FCACB. Clinical Biochemist, Division of Biochemistry, The Ottawa Hospital, Ottawa, Canada; Associate Professor, Department of Pathology & Lab. Medicine, University of Ottawa, 501 Smyth Rd. Ottawa, ON K1H 8L6, Canada.

Abstract: Laboratory information systems (LISs) are a rich source of data. LIS data can be used for numerous purposes including operations, quality projects, and research. LIS data can inform decision making, provide value additions, and ultimately be used to improve patient care. However, there are many challenges that come with LIS data re-use. These include security, access to information, the ability to analyze large volumes of data, data quality, and validation. Herein we describe the pros and cons of LIS data re-use and provide a framework for a typical LIS data extraction. Also provided are concrete examples where LIS data was essential and beneficial for a successful project. Collectively, laboratorians need to focus on training initiatives to empower future staff who will require these skills to do their jobs effectively. Laboratorians should also ask more of the LIS vendors in terms of data access and analytical tools.

Keywords: Informatics; laboratory information systems (LISs); error detection; quality assurance; laboratory operations

Received: 29 August 2017; Accepted: 19 September 2017; Published: 17 October 2017.

doi: 10.21037/jlpm.2017.09.07

Each day, laboratories generate thousands of results. This data is rich with analytical, patient demographic, physician order, temporal, and patient location information. Laboratory information system (LIS) data can be re-used for many purposes such as operations, quality, and research. LIS data can guide organizational decisions, help detect errors, improve reference intervals, and facilitate discovery of areas for quality improvement. However, LIS has largely been designed for one-way transactions, in the form to getting information in, rather than getting information out. As a result, there is an array of challenges in using LIS data. Challenges include access, extraction, analysis, and validation where it can be difficult to get, use, and harvest actionable information. This manuscript describes the rich opportunity that laboratory information provides as well as the dark side of acquiring and re-using data from LIS.

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