Study: Utilizing EHRs, educating staff can eliminate wasteful medical tests

Researchers from five universities are urging physicians to reconsider their automated habits of ordering costly, often unnecessary lab tests and instead, opt for improved education and EHR use to inform these clinical decisions, based on findings from a recent study.

The guidelines are the result of collaboration of experts at Charlottesville-based University of Virginia, Ann Arbor-based University of Michigan, University of Toronto in Ontario, Philadelphia-based University of Pennsylvania and Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University.

Performing clinical tests without first determining if they are important to a patient's treatment is a "wasteful clinical practice that threatens the value of healthcare," the researchers wrote in a paper published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Here are three recommendations the researchers offer to help reduce repetitive lab tests while still maintaining patient safety.

1. Implement educational efforts to train care providers — from nurses to senior leadership — in better practices. Further, the researchers recommend using evidence based approaches to demonstrate safety and effectiveness.

2. Provide audit testing and feedback to those ordering tests so they can adjust their patterns and optimize care.

3. Utilize EHRs, to their fullest potential, to limit the number of tests that are ordered.

More articles on EHRs:

Dr. Eric Topol: 24 reasons patients should own their medical data
Michigan behavioral health system invests in Epic EHR to coordinate with nearby hospitals
Cerner to extend free CommonWell interoperability services through 2020 

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