ONC data briefs focus on electronic sharing of lab results

Most labs don't provide patients with electronic access to their lab reports, but the majority of the results are shared with ordering providers in electronic format, according to two new data briefs released by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT.

The data briefs, published Feb. 21, are based on a national survey on health information exchange and clinical labs.  The briefs also note that:

  • The capability of clinical labs to send structured results to an electronic health record varied throughout the country
  • High subscription rates were a barrier to increased data sharing by labs
  • The percentage of labs that allowed direct access to lab results to patients and their legal representatives varied by state. Several states specifically allow such direct access; others specifically prohibit it.
  • Patient electronic access methods included web portals and access via the physician's EHR.

The data brief on patient access acknowledges that its results are based on 2012 data; a new regulation amending the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) and the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), announced February 3 reduces patients' barriers to direct access of their lab results.

ONC now has issued 14 data briefs on a myriad of topics related to EHR adoption, including the role of regional extension centers, adoption by hospitals, physicians, nurse practitioners, and federally qualified health centers, and vendor trends.  Each data brief includes "complex statistical data" and summaries with text and graphics, according to ONC.

To learn more:
- read the data briefs