Interoperability Solved for High-Volume Data Exchange and Diverse Customer Requirements of Medical Labs
The expansion of medical coverage and government funding of health services has had an enormous impact on medical labs. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), enacted in 2010, expanded the need for lab tests by increasing the number of individuals provided with health insurance coverage. The ACA requires most individuals to have health insurance and provides subsidies to help make insurance more affordable for low-income individuals.
The ACA led to an increase in the number of people able to afford preventative care and screenings, which in turn led to a rise in the number of lab tests ordered. The ACA also provided funding for community health centers (part of which included lab tests) which increased access to healthcare services for low-income and uninsured individuals.
Medicare and Medicaid expansion has also increased the need for lab tests by providing access to healthcare for more people. More individuals receive preventative care and screenings, leading to an increase in the number of lab tests ordered. Additionally, the expansion of these programs also led to a rise in chronic disease diagnoses requiring ongoing lab testing for management.
The COVID-19 pandemic significantly increased lab testing, as did new State and Federal reporting requirements. The high demand for testing has increased the volume of tests performed and the resources needed to perform tests, process them, track results and generate the required reports. Reports require data exchange and integration. Integrating new systems with existing ones has become even more critical to meet time constraints and reporting requirements due to the nature of the pandemic.
Medical Lab Workflow – Lab receives files in disparate formats and with different protocols; PilotFish transforms the data into CSV, HL7 2.x and EDI, then it is transported to the lab’s trading partners.
Data Integration and Exchange Times Slashed by PilotFish Solution
For over 15 years, PilotFish solutions have been helping medical labs ingest, transform and exchange data with disparate systems. Today, PilotFish’s enterprise integration solution helps medical labs and state agencies ingest the enormous volumes of lab testing data generated by the pandemic and process it into the formats required for reporting, analysis and data exchange.
“In metrics, we are finding that by leveraging PilotFish solutions interfacing time has decreased by 50%. With PilotFish we can be more responsive and accommodating to our clients and deliver payloads that are accurate, an absolute necessity in healthcare data exchange. As a result, we consider PilotFish our best vendor of choice.”
Director of Business Applications Development at Dynacare (LabCorp’s Canadian Subsidiary)
PilotFish has helped labs overcome technical difficulties when integrating and exchanging data with other labs, trading partners and government agencies. The increased volume of data from lab testing and the different entities that need to receive reports has compounded the difficulties, including (but not limited to):
- Data compatibility issues: Different labs may use different systems and software, which hinders and even blocks seamless data exchange. Different systems may have different data structures, terminologies and protocols.The PilotFish solution is architected to ingest virtually any data format and transform it into the format the receiving system requires. Built-in support for nearly four dozen communications protocols provides easy connectivity. To select a protocol, users choose from a drop-down menu and fill in a few fields in a configuration panel. PilotFish mitigates data compatibility issues.
- Data security and privacy concerns: HIPAA regulatory rules require that labs keep patient data protected and confidential when exchanging data with trading partners. These rules require implementing robust security measures such as encryption, access controls and secure data transfer protocols.PilotFish provides a robust suite of 130+ processors to address data security issues. These include Asymmetric Encryption/ Decryption and Symmetric Encryption/ Decryption. PilotFish’s transfer protocols, including SOAP, SFTP, and HTTPS, have specific security settings that facilitate securely transferring files.
- Inadequate data standardization: Lack of standardization in data formatting and terminology can make it difficult to share data between labs. Labs may use different codes, formats and terminologies to represent the same data.PilotFish makes it easy for labs to adopt common data standards (such as HL7, FHIR, etc.) to overcome the inherent difficulty of the lack of standardization. PilotFish has built-in specific features for working with the HL7 standard. These include:
- HL7 Parser – enables working with non-standards compliant HL7, which most other products choke on.
- HL7 Friendly Name Option – Replaces cryptic HL7 names with understandable synonyms to make it easier for new HL7 users to perform data mapping.
- HL7 Vocabulary Documentation (2.x & 3.x) – Offers the ability to browse the entire HL7 vocabulary within the PilotFish Data Mapper.
- Complex integration processes: Integrating data systems and processes between labs, hospitals and government entities can be complex and time-consuming. This is because the entities may have other IT infrastructures and data management processes.Labs and government agencies have invested in the PilotFish Integration Platform because it facilitates data exchange and integration between systems.
- Limited resources: Labs, medical facilities and government agencies all have their budgets stretched and face limited resources. This is not just time for allocating resources but also personnel to devote to data integration projects.The PilotFish integration solution was architected to be easy to use and learn and its productivity-enhancing features make configuring interfaces take a fraction of the time it previously took. Dependencies on who created an interface are removed; teams can share that interface maintenance. Business analysts can perform 80-90% of interface management and maintenance, thus reducing dependency on higher-skilled and scarcer developers.The PilotFish integration solution also has built-in automation with drop-down menus of preconfigured panels, format builders, drag & drop data mapping and many other productivity-enhancing features.
PilotFish’s integration solutions offer labs a complete enterprise-level platform that is flexible enough to handle diverse data formats, connectivity and validation, perform data transformation and routing as well as deliver data in a usable form to their target destinations. It is highly scalable to handle a tremendous volume of data via batch or in real-time.