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ASCP announces policy on health information technology and electronic medical records

The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), the world's largest organization representing the laboratory team, approved and announced its policy on health information technology/informatics and electronic medical health reco

The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), the world's largest organization representing the laboratory team, approved and announced its policy on health information technology/informatics and electronic medical health records on March 2.

The new policy says the ASCP supports the implementation of standardized health information technology within the nation's health care system to improve patient care and public health. Pathology informatics will be central to these improvements in healthcare.

Pathology informatics help insure that healthcare services are delivered in the fastest, most accurate way possible. The laboratory should be a leader in healthcare informatics because the medical information labs provide is the heart of a patient's medical record. Many decisions about treatment stem from diagnostic tests performed in the laboratory.

"All indicators point to implementation of health information technology being a catalyst to improved patient care and cost savings," said John S.J. Brooks, MD, FASCP. "The annual savings from efficiency alone could be $77 billion or better."

Electronic medical health records (EMRs) include all relevant patient care data, including medications, lab results, progress notes, radiology and immunization history. The health care industry in general has been slow to adopt EMRs. The reliance on paper is wrought with inefficiency and poor quality. IT (information technology) has been identified as one of four critical forces that could significantly improve health care quality and safety.

Some of the positive attributes of the EMR are: portability and ease of access to patient data by clinical staff at any given location; viewing and updating by laboratories for almost immediate posting of test results; ease in scheduling appointments; accurate and complete claims processing; and automated checks for drug and allergy interactions.

To ensure the implementation of a health information technology infrastructure geared toward quality care and patient safety, ASCP recommends the establishment of strong measures to protect the privacy of electronic health records.

To view the ASCP's complete policy statement on health information technology, visit www.ascp.org/Advocacy/publicPolicy_statement.aspx.