Enabling preventative healthcare with faster access to test results 

At Salem Health, our goal is to improve the health and well-being of the people and communities we serve. Every time we engage with a…

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OpenText Business Network Cloud Team

March 6, 20245 minutes read

At Salem Health, our goal is to improve the health and well-being of the people and communities we serve. Every time we engage with a patient, we want to give them an exceptional care experience. 

Our patient care goals extend across Salem Health facilities and beyond. Throughout Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley, hundreds of outpatient and urgent-care clinics, skilled nursing facilities, and residential care homes rely on our laboratory and imaging services to help care for their own patients. 

We have the busiest emergency department on the entire West Coast, 644 licensed beds, and hundreds of external healthcare customers. So, as you might imagine, our lab and radiology services are always in high demand. For Salem Health, the aim is to process orders quickly, accurately, and efficiently, so we can deliver test results to our stakeholders in the shortest possible time. 

Fast data access for preventative care 

Timely access to test results can make a big difference to patients. If a physician diagnoses a medical condition early in a residential care facility, they may be able to use preventative care to avoid that patient needing to be transferred to hospital or urgent care. And for patients, receiving test results quickly can remove days of anxiety and stress. 

In the past, the main way to order lab test and imaging services from Salem Health was fax. While this approach served us well for many years, there were big opportunities for improvement.  

In particular, manual processes meant that there was significant lead time involved in receiving orders and sending out results—and an ever-present risk of human error, which could add further delays. If we could streamline this work, we knew there was potential to cut our turnaround times substantially. 

Looking for a new approach 

When you use digital interfaces rather than manual processes, things move faster and there’s less room for error. We were in the middle of deploying Epic as our brand-new electronic health record (EHR) and laboratory information system (LIS). If we allowed customers to integrate their EHR with our Epic platform, we knew we could cut out the time-consuming manual processes altogether. 

From the start, we knew it wouldn’t be feasible to manually build an integration for each individual clinic, urgent care, and skilled nursing facility. We needed another approach—and that’s when we started exploring healthcare interoperability with OpenText EMR-Link.  

Building digital integrations 

EMR-Link was the perfect fit for our needs. Because it’s a fully managed solution, we can avoid the time and cost of building hundreds of point-to-point interfaces in house—experts from OpenText Managed Services handle that work for us. And because OpenText has already built integrations with many leading EMR platforms, onboarding new customers is very straightforward. 

Getting started with EMR-Link was easy, and we soon went live with our first customer integrations. Throughout the implementation process, the OpenText team was always on hand to support us—and since we went live over a year ago, they continue to hold weekly calls to make sure we’re getting maximum value from the solution. 

Cutting turnaround times by 40% 

So far, we’ve onboarded 270 local providers to EMR-Link. And when our customers switch to EMR-Link, the benefits couldn’t be clearer. 

For example, we can now provide electrocardiogram results to physicians within just a few minutes, and data from imaging modalities such as MRI scanners in less than an hour. We’ve cut down our turnaround times for lab results by an average of 40%—and that faster access to information is already having a powerful impact on patient care. 

In the last 12 months, we’ve measured reductions in length of stay, which reflects the fact that we’re helping inpatients to recover faster. We are also giving our healthcare partners the timely insights they need to use preventative care strategies for their patients, which helps some people to avoid a hospital admission in the first place. Our patients are noticing, too; in our latest annual survey, we saw an increase in patient satisfaction. 

To learn more about how we are working with OpenText to onboard customers to EMR-Link, click here now to read our success story. 

About the author:

Tish Lynn Gross is a Laboratory/Imaging Outreach Supervisor at Salem Health Hospitals and Clinics. A graduate of Washington State University, she was inspired to move into business development, which eventually led to her discovering her true passion for the healthcare industry—a career that has now spanned 25 years. Gross works to connect providers, clinics, and staff to their patients to provide excellent communication, resources, laboratory and imaging testing and results. At Salem Health, she has developed and implemented value-added strategies for laboratory and imaging services to increase profitability, expand market share and solidify client relationships. 

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