Efficiently managing laboratory test utilization requires both ensuring adequate utilization of needed tests in some patients and discouraging superfluous tests in other patients. After the difficult clinical decision is made to define the patients that do and do not need a test, a wealth of interventions are available to the clinician and laboratorian to help guide appropriate utilization. These interventions are collectively referred to here as the utilization management toolbox. Experience has shown that some tools in the toolbox are weak and other are strong, and that tools are most effective when many are used simultaneously. While the outcomes of utilization management studies are not always as concrete as may be desired, what data is available in the literature indicate that strong utilization management interventions are safe and effective measures to improve patient health and reduce waste in an era of increasing financial pressure.
The three rules of laboratory test utilization
Rule 1: “If you ask a stupid question, you get a stupid answer”
Rule 2: “Laboratory testing is for sick people”
Rule 3: “Too many good tests are the same as one bad test”
The laboratory test utilization management toolbox