3 ways hospitals can reduce unnecessary lab testing

Reducing unnecessary laboratory testing can improve inpatient satisfaction and lower hospital costs, according to an article published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Excessive testing creates a large amount of financial waste, and repeat blood draws associated with such tests can cause hospital-acquired anemia, among other complications.

The article's authors cited several studies in which healthcare providers reduced orders for lab tests by 8 to 19 percent, translating to between $600,000 and more than $2 million in annual savings. After reviewing past studies and lab testing reduction initiatives, the authors developed an evidence-based quality improvement blueprint to help healthcare providers lower unnecessary testing.

Here are three strategies included in the blueprint.

  1. Develop hospitalwide educational initiatives that use data to outline and standardize best practices.

  1. Set a quantitative goal for reducing lab test ordering. Show clinicians their personal ordering patterns, so they can benchmark their own habits against best practices.

  1. Update the electronic systems used for ordering tests to restrict the number of preordered tests, ensuring tests are only being ordered out of necessity rather than habit.

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