The Right Tests Through Utilization Management - Part 3 

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Improve test utilization and test results by partnering with reference laboratories

Partnering with reference laboratory gives you many opportunites to improve lab test utilization and produce accurate test results.  You should expect your reference laboratory to be your partner with the laboratory tests you submit to them.   In addition to coordinating a relationship that produces accurate test results, a partnership with your reference laboratory will give insight into turn-around times and how to properly utilize uncommon tests.  

Managing reference lab partnerships with web based tools 

Online tools can assist your lab with proper specimen collection and how to avoid submission of incorrect specimen type or submission of a specimen in an incorrect specimen collection container. 

A reference lab can give you easy access online to:

  1. Assistance in ordering the most appropriate test  
  2. Specimen ordering and collection manual
  3. Test order turn around time reports
  4. Interpretation tools

The tools which can assist in ordering the correct test may be in the form of algorithms, analyte specific information providing details on clinical situations wherein a given test might be ordered, information on appropriate testing for specific disease work-up and potentially care paths which have been developed specific to your practice by yourself and your associates to assist in the pretesting of patients with specific chronic diseases being seen in your practice. 

The ordering manual should include all the information needed for collection and transmittal of the correct sample in the correct collection device.  Should the sample be whole blood?  Plasma? Serum?  Are there requirements for the sample to be maintained at a specific temperature during transportation?  What type collection tube should be used?

Ultimately, leveraging web based tools should return results to you in a timely manner with appropriate interpretation of results.


Additonal partnership benefits

The reference laboratory should also provide information on the turn-around time from submission to availability of results and you, in turn, should periodically monitor that they are adhering to the turn-around time they indicate they will provide. 

Last, and probably most important, for those tests that are unusual and not commonly ordered, the reference laboratory should provide appropriate interpretative information contained in the report form sent to you.


To read Part 1 and Part 2 of the series click on the links below. 

The Right Tests Through Utilization Management - Part 1

The Right Tests Through Utilization Management - Part 2


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Laboratory Management, Laboratory Operations, lab test, lab utilization, lab test utilization, cost effective lab management, laboratory test utiliazation, reference laboratory, accurate test results

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About the author

Dr. John Daly

John T. Daly, M.D. received his MD degree at Weill Cornell University Medical College, performed his internship and residency in Anatomic and Clinical pathology at Duke University Medical Center and a residency in Forensic Pathology at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Chapel Hill, N.C. He is board certified in anatomic, clinical and forensic pathology. Through the course of his career, Dr. Daly has had extensive experience directing and advising laboratories of all sizes including physician office practices, Federal Health Clinics, surgical centers, Community Hospitals and the integrated academic health system clinical laboratories of Duke Medicine. He retired as Director of Laboratories of Duke Medicine, and continues his affiliation as a member of the emeritus staff.


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