According to a recent article in Laboratory Manager, "rather than a focus on reimbursement per laboratory test, the laboratory's future role lies in the support of a rapid, accurate diagnosis that becomes a part of the overall cost of doing business in health care. Therefore, if laboratories are no longer paid per test, but are a necessary function of getting proper and effective care, they must perform as efficiently and effectively as possible."
Many laboratories are implementing test utilization programs to eliminate waste and optimize test ordering. A focus of these programs is to move from a fee-for-service (FFS) environment, where providers are trained to order any and all tests and have been incentivized to order this way, to new value-based models for ordering the right test at the right time.
One way to do this is through laboratory-driven testing algorithms, where clinicians order a testing cascade and initial laboratory results drive subsequent test selection. This allows the laboratory to handle the entire cascade process with no further input from the provider.
Mayo Medical Laboratories offers several testing algorithms, and believes in implementing laboratory test utilization in today’s clinical practice. According to the Hot Topic, "Laboratory Test Utilization Strategies," by Curtis Hanson, M.D., proper implementation of testing algorithms that proceed through a logical testing sequence based on initial results can eliminate providers having to choose from an overwhelming menu of hundreds of available tests and can be instrumental in making sure that only the appropriate tests are ordered.
In clinical testing, it is important to do the right test on the right patient at the right time and do it accurately while being cognizant of costs and resources. In today's health care environment, this allows a laboratory to be a partner in a value-based environment.