“Meaningful Use” Submissions of Reportable Laboratory Results

Included in the strategies for demonstrating Meaningful Use of the EHR systems is the electronic submission of reportable laboratory results. This is often referred to as electronic laboratory reporting, or ELR. This measure applies to Eligible Hospitals.

Laboratory reporting is required for conditions which present a significant health risk to the community and for which there are measures available to control the spread or progression of disease. Electronic submission of findings meets Virginia’s reporting requirements. VDH provides a list of the conditions reportable by laboratory directors.

We strongly encourage that all COVID-19 laboratory test results be reported via one of the following electronic formats:

Regardless of the COVID-19 lab reporting method, please ensure that the HHS COVID-19 lab reporting requirements are met. Please click here for more information.

Please note: Submitters must continue traditional reporting practices (i.e. fax, phone, or mail) during implementation of electronic reporting until VDH determines that all on-boarding and quality assurance steps are complete.

Exclusions: Virginia is able to receive electronic laboratory reporting messages in HL7 2.5.1. There are no exclusions for the ELR message for Virginia hospitals.

Additional Note: The use of the term “Meaningful Use” on VDH websites refers to the exchange of public health messaging with VDH for all CMS EHR Incentive Programs such as Promoting Interoperability, Meaningful Use, MIPS, or OPPS.

Onboarding Process for Submitting Electronic Lab Report Message

For Meaningful Use (MU) Stage 1 (applicable 2011-2015 only), providers must complete Steps 1-3 (Registration, Message Structure Validation, Connectivity). For MU Stage 2 (2015-2017) and Stage 3 (beginning 2018), providers must demonstrate active engagement with Public Health and work towards Step 5 (Production). At the end of the reporting period, providers registered in the VDH Meaningful Use Registration System will receive acknowledgement, via email, of the VDH MU status achieved. VDH MU statuses are: Registered, Invited to Onboard, Testing and Validation, and In Production.


Registration: Eligible Hospital (EH) registers intent to submit electronic lab report data for MU.
  • Register using the VDH MU Registration System.
  • VDH will provide an acknowledgement of successful registration.
  • Your MU status will be “Registered.”
  • EHs are strongly encouraged to schedule a planning call with VDH (see contact information below).
  • Provide VDH with a list of all unique LOINC and SNOMED combinations for reportable findings from your laboratory.
  • Please use the VDH ELR Submission Checklist to track your progress.


 Message Structure Validation: EH generates electronic lab report messages with test data for structural validation by VDH.


 Connectivity: EH sets up transport option with public health.
  • Select a transport method.
  • Work with Virginia Health Information (VHI), formerly ConnectVirginia HIE, to establish and test transport.
  • If attesting for Stage 1 (applicable 2011-2015 only): VDH will provide the EH with acknowledgement of successful submission of test message(s) at the completion of this step.


 Message Content Validation: EH submits electronic lab report messages to public health for content validation using selected transport method.
  • Submit messages for content validation through the selected transport method.
  • Messages for content validation must use data from the production environment.
  • Provide copies of lab reports submitted to the local health department for use in content validation. Fax copies to (804) 416-5427 to the attention of “ELR Validation Team”.
  • Refine ELR messages per feedback to meet Meaningful Use and VDH requirements and obtain approval.


 Production: EH initiates ongoing submission of electronic lab report data and participates in periodic quality assurance activities.
  • Initiate regular production transmission of electronic lab report messages to VDH.
  • Your MU status will be updated from “Testing and Validation” to “In Production.”
  • Use VDH feedback as necessary to ensure quality of data.
  • If attesting for Stage 2 or Stage 3: VDH will provide the EH with acknowledgement of ongoing data transmission for their attestation period at the completion of this step.
  • Continue with current paper-based reporting to the local health department in parallel with ELR submission until notified that submission of paper reports to the local health department can be stopped.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is VDH accepting electronic laboratory reporting from eligible hospitals, including critical access hospitals?

Yes, VDH is accepting electronic laboratory messages from eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals for Stage 1 (applicable 2011-2015 only), Stage 2 (2015-2017) and Stage 3 (beginning 2018) of Meaningful Use.

Are all health care providers and hospitals asked to submit reportable laboratory results?

In Virginia, hospital laboratories and other laboratories are being encouraged to replace paper-based reporting with electronic laboratory reporting, also called ELR. For hospitals, electronic lab reporting meets one of the Meaningful Use measures.

Which conditions are laboratories required to report in Virginia?

Laboratory reporting is required for conditions which present a significant health risk to the community and for which there are measures available to control the spread or progression of disease. You can find the list of conditions reportable by laboratories in Virginia at Conditions Reportable by Laboratory Directors.

What is the expected reporting timeframe for laboratory findings?

Virginia’s Regulations for Disease Reporting and Control specify the time frames in which reports must be submitted. For electronic lab reporting, batch transmissions should be scheduled at least daily. Even if rapidly reportable findings have been communicated to public health by telephone, they should be included in the transmission and sent within 24 hours of the finding. The reverse is also true. If a rapidly reportable finding is sent to VDH electronically, VDH still expects the hospital to call the local health department to communicate the finding.

How do I register my intent to submit reportable laboratory findings to VDH for Meaningful Use, Stage 1 (applicable 2011-2015 only), Stage 2 (2015-2017), or Stage 3 (beginning 2018)?

Eligible hospitals register through VDH’s Meaningful Use Registration System.

Where can I find the specifications for the ELR “Meaningful Use” message?

Meaningful Use requires an HL7 2.5.1 message. See the following resources for information on these specifications:

Do we need to use LOINC and SNOMED codes in preparing our messages?

Yes, use LOINC (Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes) and SNOMED (Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine) to code tests, findings and other relevant information for electronic laboratory reports (ELRs). Use of LOINC is required to populate information related to tests and lab orders. Use of SNOMED codes for specimen information, organisms and other test findings, is required for Meaningful Use Stage 2. When LOINC or SNOMED codes do not exist, use of local or proprietary code is permitted. Compliance with all vocabulary standards specified in the HL7 v 2.5.1 Implementation Guide for ELR to Public Health is required for acceptance of the message by public health. A list of your lab’s unique LOINC and SNOMED combinations for reportable conditions should be submitted to VDH before structural validation of electronic laboratory messages so that VDH can set up the appropriate filters in our system.

Where do I find LOINC and SNOMED codes to start developing our messages?

LOINC (Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes) is used to represent tests and lab orders. You can search for LOINC codes and their descriptions by using key words or by entering a LOINC at http://search.loinc.org/.

SNOMED (Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine) is used to represent specimens and test findings. The official site for SNOMED vocabulary is the National Library of Medicine (NLM) site at https://uts.nlm.nih.gov/home.html. Click on the right hand corner “Sign up” and complete your information to request a UMLS (Unified Medical Language System) license. You will receive an email to authenticate your license request, then a second email when your request has been approved. To get to the SNOMED Browser, click on “SNOMEDT CT” on the green navigation bar, then “SNOMED CT Browser.” Another site where you can search for SNOMED codes by using key words or by entering a code is http://browser.ihtsdotools.org/. Click on the “United States edition” button on the landing page. To search, click on “Search” on the left side of page, and then enter key words or codes into the search bar.

Is there a typical logic or pattern for use of LOINC and SNOMED codes?

If a lab test is a more general test, like a culture, the LOINC code is also going to be general, e.g., bacteria identified or virus identified. In this instance, the SNOMED would transmit specific information about what bacteria or virus was identified, and will name an organism. If a lab test is more specific, like a pertussis DNA test, the LOINC code is also going to be specific. In this instance, the SNOMED code would be more general and indicate something like “positive” or “detected.”

How can I check developed messages to ensure they are valid and conform to HL7 standards?

Messages can be validated using the NIST (National Institutes of Standards and Technology) message validation tool, available at http://hl7v2-elr-testing.nist.gov/mu-elr/.

If our hospital uses a reference lab, do we need to include messages for findings from the reference lab?

Yes, the hospital must report findings from out-of-state reference labs. Please include these findings in your electronic lab report messages if your laboratory information system (LIS) is able to do so. If not, continue to submit these reports to public health by fax or mail.

Should ELR data transmissions be sent to the VDH central office or to the local health department?

You should submit ELR messages to the VDH central office. Because Virginia’s public health system uses centralized databases with role-based access for appropriate local public health staff, Meaningful Use data transmissions submitted through the VDH messaging portal make data available to local health department staff.

What are the options for transport of electronic laboratory messages?

Your options are identified on the Transport Options webpage.

What are the expected steps with regard to the Meaningful Use onboarding process for reportable laboratory findings?

The steps involved are outlined in the onboarding process above.

How long does it usually take for a hospital to progress through the onboarding steps, from development of message structure and content to the ongoing submission of messages to VDH’s production environment?

It depends on several factors, including the time and staff that the laboratory has available to work on the project, and how focused it remains in responding to and incorporating feedback from VDH on refining message structure or content. The process from beginning to end can take several months.

Once we begin sending ELR, can we stop mailing or faxing reportable lab findings to our local health department?

Not right away. While we want to transition from paper-based reporting to ELR, traditional mailed or faxed reports to your local health department will continue for a period after electronic reporting has begun to allow additional validation. You will be notified when you may discontinue the mailed or faxed reports.

Does ELR only replace reporting by the laboratory or does it also replace disease reports sent to public health by our Infection Preventionst (IP)?

ELR only replaces laboratory reporting. Clinicians, IPs and others are still required to report suspected or confirmed diagnoses of reportable conditions.

Where can I find additional information about Meaningful Use?

The following are links to web pages on Meaningful Use:

VDH Contact(s):

Electronic Lab Reporting:

Merylyn Huitz
PHI Messaging Manager





Page last Modified: 11/30/2022  9:20AM