An interview with Baha Zeidan, CEO

Baha Zeidan, CEO of Azalea Health Innovations Inc

As labs are looking to expand their outreach and establish themselves as profit-generating centers within hospitals, companies are responding with products to assist in this process. CLP spoke recently with Baha Zeidan, CEO of Azalea Health Innovations Inc, Valdosta, Ga, about the company’s Azalea LabHub™ product and its role in supporting an outreach effort.

CLP: Tell us about the Azalea LabHub.

Zeidan: Our product, Azalea LabHub, is a fully customizable, easy to navigate, Web-based ordering and resulting system for medical laboratories, and was developed with both independent and hospital laboratories in mind. Azalea LabHub will simplify the ordering and resulting process by reducing errors and increasing the accuracy of orders and results, therefore saving your laboratory both time and money.

Some of the features LabHub provides physicians’ offices are full-color PDF results, labels for specimen tubes on PDF orders, standing order generation, full access to laboratory specimen requirements, and medical necessity checking at the point of care. The system also has the ability to scan and store patient IDs, send e-mails and short message service notifications for critical and abnormal results, and directly interface with Physician EMRs. Features for laboratories include secure messaging between the laboratory and providers’ offices, as well as the ability to attach photomicrographs to any pathology result so that it will appear on the provider’s result.

CLP: What sorts of labs would be a good fit for it?

Zeidan: Azalea LabHub was developed for independent clinical laboratories with outreach programs and hospital laboratories that are looking to expand their outreach services. When considering the amount of billable tests at large hospitals in a local area, the opportunity to increase revenue through increased lab orders can be enormous. Many reports estimate that the national laboratories, such as LabCorp and Quest, have 70% or more of the local testing market. Hospital labs have an excellent opportunity to grab some of that market share. Azalea LabHub is the tool necessary for any clinical or hospital lab that wants the ability to provide technology similar to the national laboratories.

CLP: Is there an outlay for physicians’ offices? Will it be up to the lab to convince the physicians to use the LabHub system to achieve the best results?

Zeidan: There is an initial fee for the setup and customization of LabHub. Upon setup, the delivery of lab results to the physician’s office is transactional based, with a fee similar to the price of a stamp. Azalea LabHub is implemented in providers’ offices at no additional cost to physicians. Also, because LabHub is Web-based, no additional hardware or software needs to be purchased in order for physicians to successfully utilize the software. The laboratory will collaborate with Azalea Health Innovations in order to set up demonstrations for physicians’ offices and staff in the area. Should the physician decide he/she wants to implement the software, an additional appointment will be set with someone from our team to train the physician(s) and staff how to use the system.

Potential revenue increases associated with order growth.

CLP: Can you briefly take us through how labs and physicians would typically use the system’s features? What information is collected?

Zeidan: All patient demographic information, including the patient’s name, contact information, and insurance information (if applicable), will need to be obtained by the physician’s office prior to placing an online order. The physician’s office may then create and submit the order online, as well as print requisition orders with labels to be placed on the specimen tubes. The orders travel electronically to the laboratory information system (LIS) through the HL-7 interface. Once the hospital processes the specimen, the results will electronically travel back to LabHub or directly to the physician’s EMR via LabHub for the physician to view.

CLP: Can you talk about some pitfalls labs can fall into regarding reporting? What are some of the obstacles in regulation compliance they face, and how can these be overcome?

Zeidan: One of the reporting pitfalls that labs can fall into include not having proper knowledge regarding medical necessity validation requirements at the point of care. They also are not able to read handwritten orders and labels on specimen tubes. Azalea LabHub has medical necessity validation available to the provider’s office at the point of ordering a lab test. Also, orders are placed online, and the provider’s office has the ability to print specimen labels, reducing reporting errors due to illegible handwriting.

Obstacles in regulation compliance are that HIPAA laws are now requiring that each patient record consist of an audit log with date and time stamps listing who accessed each specific record and when it was accessed. Our system, Azalea LabHub, includes an easily accessed and detailed audit trail.

CLP: What are some revenue opportunities open to hospital labs?

Zeidan: Azalea LabHub was created as a low-cost solution to give a lab director or lab manager the tools needed to easily capture additional lab business in his/her local outreach area without having to recreate the wheel when it comes to the current LIS. A hospital can easily recover its investment in Azalea LabHub in just a few weeks and expect to increase hospital revenue by $300,000 or more with just five additional physicians sending an average of 10 lab tests each per day to the hospital laboratory. LabHub is an attractive marketing tool for the hospital to convince physicians’ offices in their local community to send their lab orders to the hospital laboratory. By having physicians send their lab orders to their local hospital, they are more likely to utilize the hospital’s other services such as Radiology, MRI, and CT-scan, which in return generates overall more revenue for the hospital.

CLP: How can labs prove to their hospitals that they are becoming revenue-generating departments?

Zeidan: Laboratories can prove they are revenue-generating departments rather than cost centers by deploying technology tools such as Azalea LabHub, which enables them to accommodate medical necessity validation, adhere to insurance exclusivity rules, and interface EMRs with the hospital laboratories.

CLP: In the future, how will Azalea be working to meet the growing integration of lab/hospital/clinic systems?

Zeidan: We see the future of Azalea Health Innova-tions as becoming a Regional Health Information Network. A Regional Health Information Network is a hub for electronic commutation between multiple areas in the health care field, such as hospitals, physicians’ offices, laboratories, imaging centers, etc. AHI’s goal is to interconnect clinicians to promote interoperability and the ability to exchange patient health information among clinicians and other authorized entities in a timely manner and under consistent security, privacy, and other protections. We are currently adding e-prescribing, radiology ordering and resulting, and more features to our products suite.