Reduction in Unnecessary Clinical Laboratory Testing Through Utilization Management at a US Government Veterans Affairs Hospital

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Objectives: To implement an electronic laboratory utilization management system (laboratory expert system [LES]) to provide safe and effective reductions in unnecessary clinical laboratory testing.

Methods: The LES is a set of frequency filter subroutines within the Veterans Affairs hospital and laboratory information system that was formulated by an interdisciplinary medical team.Results: Since implementing the LES, total test volume has decreased by a mean of 11.18% per year compared with our pre-LES test volume. This change was not attributable to fluctuations in outpatient visits or inpatient days of care. Laboratory cost savings were estimated at $151,184 and $163,751 for 2012 and 2013, respectively. A significant portion of these cost savings was attributable to reductions in high-volume, large panel testing. No adverse effects on patient care were reported, and mean length of stay for patients remained unchanged.

Conclusions: Electronic laboratory utilization systems can effectively reduce unnecessary laboratory testing without compromising patient care.

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