The American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP) has recently documented the growing trend of private lab testing or what could be called Direct Access Testing. The ASCP provided a policy statement in October of 2008 on their position. Direct Access testing is becoming an increasingly popular option for patients wishing to monitor their health status and make more decisions about their own health care. DAT can be a useful tool in enhancing the doctor/patient relationship. ASCP believes it is critical for patients to use reliable testing sites consult with their physician and pursue appropriate follow up treatment.
The ASCP has published another paper on Private Lab Testing in July of 2004. Here is a part of the introduction.
The traditional healthcare model in this country places the physician (or appropriate ordering provider) in control of determining what diagnostic and therapeutic monitoring (including laboratory tests) are performed on a patient. In addition, all results of tests and procedures are reported to the physician who assumes the responsibility of relaying the information to the patient.
Consumers are now taking charge of their own health and wellness by managing their laboratory testing with the help of direct access testing. The ability to order private lab testing without a prescription is precisely what direct access testing has enabled consumers to do. Physicians are not, however, left out of the loop. Direct Access Testing (DAT) companies have licensed Physicians on staff to review results and advise you and if this is not feasible, they strongly advise you to consult your personal physician to go over your results.
The tremendous upsurge in national media attention on private lab testing online as well as online std testing has prompted companies providing direct-to-consumer laboratory services to form an organization of DAT?s to establish standards of excellence and assure high quality screening services along with the low cost. In a few recent published articles, we see a growing trend of online lab testing without a prescription.
The Importance of Laboratory Services
Clinical laboratory testing provides objective data about the health of a patient which enables healthcare providers to screen for risk factors, perform early diagnosis, evaluate the severity of many disease states and recovery statistics, the monitoring of treatment and the total evaluation of these outcomes. Patient safety is another area which laboratory services provide a critical part of the overall healthcare process. An example of this is the ability to monitor optimum drug levels in vivo for patients on drug therapies. Personalized prescribing of medications can also be achieved through laboratory testing. Another example is how laboratories screen blood supplies for pathogens in donated blood. This safety mechanism is extremely important for surgery and disease states that require blood transfusions.
Evidence based medicine is the foundation which laboratory services provide to healthcare. This evidence based ideology is being incorporated into standard operating procedures throughout healthcare which assists providers and patients with making decisions about individual?s health care in specific circumstances. A greater attention is being given to evidence based medicine by doctors and payers which is paving a new path to improved care giving practices.
A recent article about Private Lab Testing in the Wall Street Journal?
Aches & Claims: Ordering Up Your Own Medical Tests By Robert J. Davis
CURIOUS ABOUT your cholesterol but too busy to go to the doctor? A growing number of people are using direct-to-consumer lab services, which let you order your own blood and urine tests for everything from allergies to the AIDS virus. The process is quick and easy, but interpreting the results can be tricky without a doctor's help
LEARN HOW TO GET LAB TESTING ONLINE NOW!
Laboratory Services in the US
The clinical laboratory and the laboratory services which are provided have a major effect on the clinical decisions that physicians, nurses and various other healthcare providers make with patient care. These decisions effect disease prevention, diagnosis, treatment and the management of disease. A surprising number which contrasts the importance that laboratory services provides is the cost which laboratory testing accounts for when looking at healthcare spending. The latest healthcare statistics show that laboratory services accounts for only 2.3 % of US healthcare expenditures and only 2% of Medicare spending. Consumer directed testing is a key area for market growth. In 2004, 10-15% of hospital and commercial clinical laboratories offered some form of direct access testing. Laboratories should be prepared to assume a greater advisory role and provide other support to promote informed self care by consumers. Laboratory medicine is an essential element of the health care system. It is integral to many clinical decisions, providing physicians, nurses, and other health care providers with often pivotal information for prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and management of disease. Laboratory tests and services supply clinicians with information necessary to provide high quality, safe, effective, and appropriate care to patients. The key role of laboratory testing is reflected in evidence-based medicine (EBM) and clinical practice guidelines. Health care providers, quality assurance organizations, and payers are incorporating selected laboratory tests into indicators to objectively assess quality of care for individual patients and populations and to support payment policies. Laboratory medicine has an essential role in risk management. Not only can testing help to prevent certain adverse events, it can facilitate detection and recovery from adverse health events when they do occur. Laboratory tests help to prevent infectious agents from getting into the blood supply and ensure the safety of organs and tissues for transplant. Through effective and timely surveillance, tests can help to mitigate threats to patient and population health (e.g., influenza, nosocomial infections, severe acute respiratory syndrome). The contributions of laboratory tests and services as an essential component and partner in health systems remain under-recognized. Despite the extensive role of laboratory medicine in informing medical decision-making, spending on laboratory services accounts for only 2.3% of national health care spending and 2% of Medicare expenditures. As overall expenditures on health care continue to rise, appropriate use of laboratory tests can facilitate cost-effective care via early detection and improved management of priority health conditions. Recent and emerging technological advances gained from mapping the human genome, including applications of genetic testing that enable personalized medicine, call greater attention to the contributions of laboratory medicine to patient care as well as the scientific and medical knowledge base. This chapter summarizes the value of laboratory medicine to health care and patient and population health.