Laboratory testing is a critical component of health care. Depending on the country, it may account for up to 10 percent of total health expenditures.
Whether funded through a universal health coverage program or private insurance, the quality of diagnostic procedures can have an impact on patient outcomes. High-quality diagnostics can ensure that clinicians have accurate information to inform their treatment decisions.
2. Electronic Health Records
An EHR (or electronic medical record) is a digital version of a patient’s chart that contains all the information you’d find in a traditional paper chart, plus much more. This includes past health history, medication records, radiology reports, lab data and more.
A digital chart can also make it easier to spot any recurring issues, such as drug interactions or dangerous laboratory values. It can also help reduce unintentional errors by alerting physicians to any potential issues.
Aside from its clinical benefits, an EHR can streamline many administrative processes, including appointment scheduling and insurance eligibility checks. Additionally, it can allow patients to communicate with doctors via an online portal and contribute relevant data through their own personal wellness devices. This helps to eliminate paperwork, as well as the need for handwritten notes, which can lead to errors due to miscommunication, poor documentation or illegibility. Additionally, most top systems are fully HIPAA compliant for maximum privacy protection.
3. Patient Self-Management
As a healthcare system, we must embrace patient self-management to foster a culture of responsibility and accountability among all members of the health care team. Effective patient self-management involves a collaborative partnership between patients and their providers in which they develop goals, create plans and solve problems.
This is achieved through dialogue and agreement between a clinician and a patient/family that define the problem, establish priorities, create treatment plans, identify solutions and address barriers. The provision of self-management support in healthcare requires changes at every level of the service, from how services are commissioned, how health professionals and people with long-term conditions work together in consultations, to how people with chronic diseases are supported between appointments.
Diagnostic testing may be used as part of the information-gathering process to produce a working diagnosis. The working diagnosis can be a list of potential diagnoses or a single potential diagnosis. The degree of uncertainty associated with a working diagnosis should be communicated to the patient, and should be revised as further information is obtained.
4. Remote Monitoring
As more patients choose to live at home, remote monitoring has become a popular telehealth strategy for healthcare providers. Often called RPM, this type of telehealth technology allows for the streamlined collection of patient data outside of the traditional clinical setting.
Many chronic patients require regular trips to hospitals and clinics for routine management of their conditions, but remote monitoring technology can cut down on both the expense for the health system and patient risk. For example, early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Penn Medicine used text messaging to track a large number of patients as they self-isolated at home.
Using technology like this is an excellent way to support your care team and help your patients stay on the right track, regardless of their location or schedule. It also helps to reduce stress for both clinicians and patients, as well as improve patient outcomes by allowing them to keep an eye on their symptoms from the comfort of their own homes rather than in a busy hospital corridor.