Medicine of the Future in America

Evaluating STAT Testing Alternatives by Calculating Annual Laboratory Costs (Part 2)

Higher Standard of Care Demands—Clinicians expect laboratories to quickly deliver reliable results to help them make immediate patient management decisions. The American Heart Association and the Emergency Care Research Institute recommend, for example, that blood gas and electrolyte results in open heart surgery be available within five minutes. The expected required turnaround time for these same tests in other critical care settings varies, but it is generally in the range of five to 15 minutes. These standards are not currently met by most medical centers. Shortage of Laboratory Personnel—Recent surveys indicate that more than 80 percent of laboratories have encountered a shortage of technical personnel. To make matters worse, 40 percent of the accredited medical technology training programs have closed since 1983. ventolin inhalers
The impact of these issues may be to increase laboratory costs without concurrent increases in reimbursement since most prospective payment programs have not adjusted their fee schedules for such changes. If hospital laboratories are to survive and prosper, managers will need to identify and implement new financial management methods that can track and control their “true” costs as well as to evaluate the actual costs of using alternate testing sites or instrument configurations.

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