Big Iron meets Big Data

Lab instruments are marvels of modern technology able to dice, splice and analyse microscopic specimens. Yet pushing the results into modern medical reporting systems is as slow, and often as painful, as pulling teeth.

Özen Akyürek (left) General Manager at Ventura/Egesoft, welcomes a common...
Özen Akyürek (left) General Manager at Ventura/Egesoft, welcomes a common platform for developing lab reporting software for customers
Özen Akyürek (left) General Manager at Ventura/Egesoft, welcomes a common...
Özen Akyürek (left) General Manager at Ventura/Egesoft, welcomes a common platform for developing lab reporting software for customers

It took a concerted, coordinated industry effort to break the bottleneck in reporting by bring connectivity for lab instrument into the new century. (See EH03 2012, ‘Upgrading ‘Big Iron’ for the digital century’)

The breakthrough came last year in Berne, Switzerland when the major instrument makers tested a common interface at the European Connectathon, a marathon of IT system connectivity organised by the Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE). As a result of these first exchanges between platforms, the industry partners in the IVD Industry Connectivity Consortium (IICC), decided to refine specifications for a system integration profile called Lab Analytical Workflow (LAW) developed through IHE.

The instrument makers also asked to extend the scope of the LAW to include microbiology, according to François Macary with ASIP-Santé in Paris, which sponsors the IHE Lab domain. The first version of the lab interface dealt primarily with results from chemistry analysers.

‘The big rendezvous is now set for Chicago in January, 2014,’ he said when the refined and extended LAW 2.0 will be put to the test at the North American Connectathon.  

By using the collaborative process of IHE, the major players have created a neutral ground where they can cooperate on a shared framework.  The IHE Lab profiles create a level playing field for vendors of both the instruments that analyse specimens and the software that manages and communicates the results. As one company spokesman put it, ‘On IHE we collaborate, on everything else we compete.’

Founding members of the IICC include Abbott Diagnostics, Beckman Coulter, Becton Dickinson, bioMérieux, Data Innovations, Orchard Software, Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, Roche Diagnostics, Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics, and Systelab Technologies.

Preparing for Chicago, Systelab/Izasa participated in April 2013 at the IHE Europe Connectathon in Istanbul. Daniel Nebot said the Barcelona-based group was testing LAW as it prepares to integrate the profile across a line of instruments over the coming year.

Smaller vendors are also seizing the chance to play on the neutral ground.  

Ventura/Egesoft from Ankara was testing the overarching LAW interface, as well as others among the IHE Lab profiles that include data management for tasks such as ordering and performing in-vitro diagnostic tests inside a healthcare institution, managing the content of an electronic clinical laboratory report, integrating robotic laboratory equipment, performing and collecting the results of in-vitro testing at the point of care or patient’s bedside.

‘We are creating new capabilities for new customers, primarily in Turkey,’ said Özen Akyürek, general manager of Ventura/Egesoft. ‘Regulations in Turkey are forcing our customers to do this, to assure the quality of lab data, to help consolidate the number of labs nationwide, and lower costs.

‘In data exchanges there has always been just one common language for lab reporting, which is HL7,’ he added, ‘and now there’s one common framework for exchanges, which is IHE.’ 

Report: John Brosky


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