Integrating information from decentralized laboratory testing sites. The creation of a value-added network.
The decentralization of laboratory testing provides distinct advantages for clinicians and patients, such as the reduction of test turnaround time, but also promotes the development of scattered caches of results. This problem could be ameliorated by the creation of an integrated laboratory data base. Such an approach would provide clinicians with a patient view of laboratory information in addition to the functional view of it that is offered currently. Impressive technologic advances are being made in the development of a distributed computer architecture in which processing tasks and information are shared across multiple hardware platforms attached to a network. Such architecture could be used to create a regional value-added laboratory network to integrate test information generated in decentralized testing sites. Independent reference laboratories and tertiary-care referral hospitals are the most likely candidates to create distributed value-added networks. Pathologists should view themselves as health-care professionals responsible for the processing, storage, and transmission of information, as well as for its generation. In time, the partition of information along hospital geopolitical boundaries will appear archaic and will be replaced by an emphasis on local and regional integration of medical information similar to that advocated here.
Friedman, BA; Mitchell, W
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