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  • Michael Misialek, MD

Making Lab Results Meaningful for Patients


Patients are increasingly accessing their lab results through electronic medical record portals. Lab tests account for 94% of the data in a patient's health record. Pathologists and lab testing inform 70% of all medical decisions. As such, it is natural that pathologists should ensure patients and families understand their results. The shared decision model where the informed and engaged patient works with their provider to navigate this array of data and create a personalized care plan is becoming increasingly popular.

In a recent paper, ten recommendations were proposed for health systems to make lab results more understandable and actionable for patients. These include:

1. Whenever possible, provide a clear takeaway message for each result

2. Signal whether differences are meaningful or not

3. When feasible, provide thresholds for concern and action

4. Individualize the frame of reference by allowing custom reference ranges

5. Ensure the system is accessible

6. Provide conversion tools along with results

7. Design in collaboration with users

8. Design for both new and experienced

9. Make it easy for people use the data as they wish

10. Collaborate with experts from relevant fields

Pathologists should take the lead on working with their health systems to implement these recommendations.

#consult #quality #safety #pathology #labtesting #labresults #shareddecisionmaking #patientengagement

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