Louisiana Pilot Expands, Shares Public Health Data by Secure Internet Access

"The LIMS project will modernize our health care system, and enable parish health units to order public health lab tests, transmit results, and analyze data from results electronically."

by / January 14, 2009 0

"The LIMS project will modernize our health care system, and enable parish health units to order public health lab tests, transmit results, and analyze data from results electronically." -- Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (pictured)

A pilot program that has increased efficiency of state laboratory testing for medical uses in 12 parish health units since 2006 will soon go statewide, and be expanded to include environmental testing. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal highlighted the program today at a town hall meeting in Calcasieu Parish, one of the 12 pilot sites chosen for the new Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) project.

"The LIMS project will modernize our health care system," said Jindal "and enable parish health units to order public health lab tests, transmit results, and analyze data from results electronically, saving costs on the more than one million tests conducted each year and increasing efficiency at the same time."

LIMS speeds up the transfer of information between the Office of Public Health (OPH) State Laboratory and its clients, including parish health units, hospitals, law enforcement agencies, prisons and community-based organizations. It also works with the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to allow for electronic information sharing.

"Over the next six months, LIMS will be implemented in all parish health units throughout the state," said Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) Secretary Alan Levine. "As we continue to work with budget challenges, we are proud to introduce a tool that will make government more efficient and cost the taxpayers less while processing even more data."

The system will improve the efficiency of the testing process by making results available immediately to doctors and other health professionals via secure Internet access. The data is also transmitted to the CDC as needed. The system allows for improved handling of results and data from bioterrorism events, environmental hazard events such as oil or chemical spills, and hurricane response.

The OPH State Lab processes many types of public health tests conducted through various DHH programs. This includes clinical tests (parish health unit patients), environmental health tests (water systems, environmental contaminations), epidemiology tests (infectious disease), or sanitation tests (restaurant or hospital inspections).

Currently, the OPH State Lab processes about one million tests annually, but expects to increase that number significantly with the improved efficiency of LIMS.

LIMS is funded by the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Cooperative Agreement administered through the OPH Center for Community Preparedness.

The parish health units included in the pilot program were Allen, Caddo, Calcasieu, Claiborne, East Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lafourche (Galliano), Jefferson (Metairie), Orleans (Delgado Clinic), Ouachita, Tangipahoa (Hammond) and Winn.