Over the past twenty-five years, we have seen increasing consumer involvement in the health care decisions affecting themselves and their loved ones. Witness the growth of Patient-Centered Medical Care and Medical Homes as having accelerated collaboration between patients and providers. In addition, the increasing sophistication of the internet has contributed to enhanced patient knowledge of medical conditions, diagnostics and treatments. Concurrently, there has been explosive growth in direct-to-consumer marketing of laboratory tests.
In 2001, the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) recognized the need for accurate, reliable, peer-reviewed information to enhance patient knowledge of clinical laboratory testing, including individual descriptions of laboratory tests and the role of the clinical laboratory in patient diagnosis and treatment.
The AACC collaborated with partners in the United States and Canada and developed a peer-reviewed Lab Tests Online website. The online program they established grew to include, among other things, educational resources covering:
• Names of laboratory tests and their utilization
• Basic chemistry information on each test
• Interpretation of test result
• Common questions patients ask about a given test with answers
• Information on disease syndromes
• Recommendations for disease screening appropriate to age
• Feature articles providing in-depth information on topics related to laboratory medicine and health care
The website is very easy to navigate with search boxes and drop-down menus and, in addition, it contains a great deal more information than that enumerated above.
Over the years, this website has grown and it is not just information for patients. There is a link on the landing page to direct health care professionals to credible information for their use, be it information on a given test or use of appropriate laboratory testing in diagnosing a given medical condition.
Surveys indicate that the website user population is composed of approximately 80% patients/family caregivers and 20% health professionals. Since the reference platform was established in 2001, greater than 325 million individuals have accessed the website and it is available in 10 languages.
Lab Tests Online is not intended as a replacement for consultations between patients and health care providers but rather as a supplement and resource to help patients be more informed so that they can ask their providers the right questions and develop a deeper understanding of disease process and provide greater contributions to their health.
The National Academy of Medicine in 2015 encouraged patients and their families to be active members of the health care team. Lab Tests online is the ideal website for us to share with our providers who in turn can share it with their patients. We and they can be assured of patients receiving reliable, peer-reviewed materials from the American Association for Clinical Chemistry and its partners who work together to maintain the accuracy of the materials. https://labtestsonline.org/
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