By Aric Harris

In the not too distant past, physicians offices and hospitals maintained a paper folder - called a "chart" - for each patient who received care.  There were many obvious limitations to this approach and many healthcare providers replaced paper charts with computers that could store patient records.  A combination of paper charts and basic in-office computerized record keeping still exists today.  

Paper charts and in-office computers are rapidly being replaced by today's EHR systems which not only store records but also drive workflow for ordering tests, sharing data with others, and ultimately providing patient access to their healthcare record.  Healthcare providers are increasingly adopting these EHR's due to federal mandates.  Today, surveys indicate that about 69% of healthcare providers in the US have adopted EHR's.  

The adoption of EHR's by providers is having a profound impact on the healthcare industry and lab executives must quickly position to accommodate this change.  Healthcare entities involved with delivering care are interconnected with various partner organizations across the continuum of care.  One of most important relationships for healthcare providers is with their diagnostic laboratory partner.  With more than 6.5 billion lab tests performed per year in the US, estimates suggest around 80% of all diagnostic decisions are informed primarily by lab results.  

Due to the high dependence heatlhcare providers have on their lab partners, they are expecting labs to help enable a successful transition to EHR by maximizing the value that is gained from the investment.  In order to gain maximum value, the medical lab must also make the leap from a focus on internal lab tracking software and lab management tools that are focused on internal clinical process into a new approach that incorporates lab CRM (customer relationship management) and healthcare cloud computing.  

While historically healthcare software systems were installed in-house and configured to serve the needs of a specific department, healthcare is growing increasingly connected.  Now that many healthcare systems are in place, including electronic health records, the data that is trapped within these systems must be unified in a manner that enables healthcare professionals and administrators to see a comprehensive view of all clinical and business transactions that comprise their key relationships with their healthcare partners.  This need goes beyond interoperability because it requires an easy, automated method to transform the data into intelligence that drives proactive alerts and action on the part of the relevant individual or organization.  

Healthcare CRM is the solution that enables this significant leap in value for healthcare providers who are adopting EHR systems.  When the lab incorporates a lab-specific CRM that captures all orders, results, and busiiness transactions, the heatlhcare provider who is the lab's client receive a dramatically higher level of service.  Further, that healthcare provider is able to gain key intelligence based on all of the electronic data they now capture and send to the lab that makes the lab a true strategic partner who delivers invaluable intelligence back to their provider client.  

Today, healthcare cloud computing makes it possible for medical laboratories to quickly and cost effectively incorporate lab CRM capabilities into their processes.  This, in turn, serves to benefit their provider clients who are also adopting new management tools through significant EHR investments.  By adopting Lab CRM, labs can transform their client relationships into true strategic partnerships.  

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