Electronic Laboratory Reporting

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About Electronic Disease Surveillance at the Department of State Health Services
Detecting and monitoring the occurrence of disease through reporting of test results for notifiable conditions is a cornerstone of public health surveillance in Texas. The National Electronic Disease Surveillance System (NEDSS) Electronic Laboratory Reporting (ELR) system at the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) provides a method for hospital and clinical laboratories to electronically submit test results to fulfill their statutory obligation to report test results to the public health authority.

What is Electronic Laboratory Reporting (ELR)?
Electronic Laboratory Reporting (ELR) is the electronic transmission of results from laboratories that conduct tests for specific high-profile and/or contagious diseases to public health authorities so that appropriate actions can take place to limit the spread and manage impacts of the disease.  ELR has many benefits, including improved timeliness of results, reduction of manual data entry errors, and reports that are more complete.

Submitting ELR Data to Meet Public Health Reporting Requirements for Meaningful Use
While all hospitals and clinical laboratories may participate in ELR, Eligible Hospitals (EHs) or Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) participating in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Electronic Health Record Incentive Programs may use their successful participation in ELR reporting to help meet Incentive Programs’ requirements for reporting data to public health.

In order to meet the Incentive Programs’ requirements, participating EHs and CAHs must use Certified Electronic Health Record Technology (CEHRT) that meets specific requirements including being capable of sending ELR messages using the HL7 Version 2.5.1 Implementation Guide: Electronic Laboratory Reporting to Public Health, Release 1 (available on the HL7 website), and being “actively engaged” in public health reporting. DSHS will provide appropriate documentation to Incentive Program participants. 

Electronic Lab Reporting On-Boarding Process

The resources below describe the ELR onboarding process and the DSHS requirements in detail:

Step 1. Registration

Step 2. Pretesting

Step 3. Testing

  • Facility will develop and generate HL7 messages for specific conditions that conform to the HL7 Version 2.5.1 Implementation Guide: Electronic Laboratory Reporting to Public Health, Release 1 (US Realm) with Errata.
  • The facility will pretest their message(s) using the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) validation tool
  • Examples of result types to be tested include;
    • Coded result (CWE)
    •  Numeric result
    •  Titer result
    • Structured numeric result.
  • Once the context-free validation reports indicate the test messages are free of errors (Error count is 5-10), send copies of the validation reports to 
  •  After the facility has met the message applicable criteria, they will contact DSHS to set up a secure message transport system. 

Step 4. Acceptance Testing/Onboarding

  • The facility will begin to send live production batch transmission of messages to DSHS for structure and content validation. 

Step 5. Production

  • Once an eligible hospital has completed validation they will receive an acknowledgement of their success and be placed into production status. 
  • Facility will continue to send batch messages to DSHS for validation.
  •  DSHS will give permission to engage the facility in parallel validation, a process whereby the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) at DSHS will perform gap analysis to compare the data submitted into DSHS NEDSS with the content of the paper laboratory report to make sure the content are similar and synonymous.
  • Any issues with parallel validation will be discussed with the DSHS NEDSS team and communicated to the facility for appropriate action.
  •  Once parallel validation is concluded, DSHS will inform the facility when to discontinue paper submission of reportable disease events.

Message Header Segment Specification for ELR in Texas State

4 HD  R  Sending Facility  Facility Name^CLIA number^CLIA 
4.1 IS  RE  Namespace ID  Uniquely identifies the facility that is sending the data. 
4.2 ST  Universal ID  Must be a CLIA number 
4.3 ID  R Universal ID Type  Literal value: CLIA  
5 HD R Receiving Application Literal value: NEDSS  
5 HD R Receiving Facility  Literal value: TX-ELR