Customizing Laboratory Information Systems: Closing the Functionality Gap

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Highly customizable laboratory information systems help to address great variations in laboratory workflows, typical in Pathology. Often, however, built-in customization tools are not sufficient to add all of the desired functionality and improve systems interoperability. Emerging technologies and advances in medicine often create a void in functionality that we call a functionality gap. These gaps have distinct characteristics—a persuasive need to change the way a pathology group operates, the general availability of technology to address the missing functionality, the absence of this technology from your laboratory information system, and inability of built-in customization tools to address it. We emphasize the pervasive nature of these gaps, the role of pathology informatics in closing them, and suggest methods on how to achieve that. We found that a large number of the papers in the Journal of Pathology Informatics are concerned with these functionality gaps, and an even larger proportion of electronic posters and abstracts presented at the Pathology Informatics Summit conference each year deal directly with these unmet needs in pathology practice. A rapid, continuous, and sustainable approach to closing these gaps is critical for Pathology to provide the highest quality of care, adopt new technologies, and meet regulatory and financial challenges. The key element of successfully addressing functionality gaps is gap ownership—the ability to control the entire pathology information infrastructure with access to complementary systems and components. In addition, software developers with detailed domain expertise, equipped with right tools and methodology can effectively address these needs as they emerge.

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