[Marketing] [IMPROVEDX] Doctors are surprisingly bad at reading lab results. It=?Windows-1252?Q?=92s_?=putting us all at risk. - The Washington Post

Swerlick, Robert A rswerli at EMORY.EDU
Sun Oct 14 18:26:24 UTC 2018

There is a major barrier to deploying these tools, even if they exist, that being the lack of clear $ ROI. When such initiatives are put forth, creating a safer and more functional care environment ALWAYS takes a back seat to any project that has a positive financial ROI.

Robert A. Swerlick, MD
Alicia Leizman Stonecipher Chair of Dermatology
Professor and Chairman, Department of Dermatology
Emory University School of Medicine
From: Jackson, Brian <brian.jackson at ARUPLAB.COM>
Sent: Sunday, October 14, 2018 10:32 AM
Subject: Re: [IMPROVEDX] [Marketing] [IMPROVEDX] Doctors are surprisingly bad at reading lab results. It’s putting us all at risk. - The Washington Post

I think that time-based visualization (my translation of your term “event tracking”) might be the biggest single opportunity here.  For example, we can in theory create paragraphs of explanatory text around a single lab result, but it will never be nearly as useful as visually displaying that result in the time-based context of other tests and clinical events.

One of the interesting challenges is that there are many different time scales of interest, and that can be relevant to interpreting a specific event.  Some issues evolve over minutes to hours, others over the course of a hospitalization or flare up episode, others over years.


Sent from my iPhone

On Oct 12, 2018, at 7:15 PM, Sidney Smith, M.D. <ssmithmd at COMPLETE.MD<mailto:ssmithmd at COMPLETE.MD>> wrote:

Brian and Helene highlight the underlying assumption and deficiency of the Electronic Medical Record.

EMR software language HL7 shares PDF files or images of data linked to a patient for storage. Integration or interoperability, today, means lines of data in a file match up. This is a way to share a PDF or word file but this will never achieve the goal of communication that everyone envisions.

The EHR was build to work like paper and not as a communication platform.

To achieve EHR functional interoperability we have to track the event associated with the patient and not the patient with the event.

Every communication company tracks events - FedEx, UPS, Amazon, Google, Delta, Suntrust, Bank of America,  etc except medicine.

Once your conceptually move to event tracking,  you can link data across the care continuum creating what you both envision.

Sidney Smith MD

Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

-------- Original message --------
From: HM Epstein <hmepstein at GMAIL.COM<mailto:hmepstein at GMAIL.COM>>
Date: 10/12/18 7:11 PM (GMT-05:00)
Subject: Re: [IMPROVEDX] [Marketing] [IMPROVEDX] Doctors are surprisingly bad at reading lab results. It’s putting us all at risk. - The Washington Post

That’s really fascinating and helpful. So, Brian, why can’t the information we’re discussing be included in the ASCII text? For example, I’ve seen text information under a test result range from three words to five full lines.

When you get a cardiovascular work up or an MRI or a CAT scan you get a report that’s a couple of pages long. Why can’t those include information that would be helpful to determining next steps?

For patients to be able to truly participate in their own healthcare team, they need to have information at their fingertips. For overworked clinicians to ensure that their communication to the patient is clear and understandable, it’s helpful for them to have something documented they can share. Is there a chance that laboratories and radiologists and other testing facilities could document the type of data points that might lead to patients getting a real opportunity to understand their options?

Perhaps I’m looking in the wrong direction by asking the testing facilities to provide this information but it seems to be a piece of inexpensive, low hanging fruit that might help reduce Dx error.

Any other suggestions ImproveDx listserv folks?


On Oct 12, 2018, at 6:09 PM, Jackson, Brian <brian.jackson at aruplab.com<mailto:brian.jackson at aruplab.com>> wrote:

As a clinical laboratory person, I read this with great interest.  I totally agree that we ought to be doing more to communicate the meaning of lab results, rather than just delivering the results.  But doing this requires that we have better communication tools at our disposal.  Modern healthcare IT infrastructure and interoperability standards have focused far more on computer interfaces than human interfaces.

More specifically:  Clinical lab results are in most cases delivered from laboratory information systems via HL7 interfaces to EHR systems.  A lab result message essentially consists of a few fields including the test name, result, units, reference range, high/low/critical flag as applicable, and then an optional freetext field that can include explanatory comments and regulatory boilerplate.  All of this is plain, unformatted ASCII freetext.  Laboratories have no control over the ultimate visual display of the information.  Fonts and font sizes are completely under the control of the EHR.  Even simple things like use of italics and bolding are not available.  Let alone the potentially really useful things like graphical presentation, hyperlinked information, etc.  As a result laboratories are incredibly limited in the type and quantity of information we can attach to a lab result.

The medical informatics world has put an enormous amount of effort over recent decades into data exchange standards such as HL7.  Which are certainly important and valuable.  But unfortunately there hasn’t been nearly the same effort put into human-to-human communication.  I see some little changes coming out at the IT edges, but not a whole lot or very fast.

--Brian Jackson

From: HM Epstein [mailto:hmepstein at GMAIL.COM]
Sent: Friday, October 12, 2018 3:16 PM
Subject: [Marketing] [IMPROVEDX] Doctors are surprisingly bad at reading lab results. It’s putting us all at risk. - The Washington Post

An important article by epidemiologist Daniel Morgan in the Washington Post.

Perhaps test results from laboratories should come with information on the specificity and reliability of the results. And specialists could provide standardized information on the probability of disease.&=

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