Curtis Hanson, M.D., Discusses How Fewer Lab Tests Can Produce Better Patient Results

Curt Hanson, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of Mayo Medical Laboratories, recently spoke with  Modern Healthcare about Mayo Clinic's electronic health record (EHR), which is built to flag repetitive laboratory tests to help lower costs and improve care. According to Dr. Hanson, "Mayo's EHR aggregates how often certain tests are ordered, and cost data and guidance on how to reduce redundancy, among other metrics. It has been an important tool as hospitals and health systems look to get more bang for their buck."

According to Dr. Hanson, excess tests are a common recurring theme everywhere, and in a fee-for-service world, providers may be reimbursed for each order, leaving little incentive to reduce the number of tests. However, test costs are rising with some costing thousands of dollars.

To help guide physicians on what tests to use, Mayo is teaming up with the National Decision Support Company to develop CareSelect Lab. The platform, available through providers' EHRs, provides real-time data on available tests and outcomes, gaps in care, and overall utilization. The software expands on CareSelect Imaging tools that more than 250 health systems, including Mayo, use for radiology testing.

However, according to Dr. Hanson, reducing unnecessary lab testing is often low on the totem pole, falling short to issues like satisfying quality metrics under the government's Merit-based Incentive Payment System. And medical school students receive little training on appropriate utilization of lab tests.

"When we talk to other hospitals and health systems around the country, it's not an issue of not wanting to do it or being capable. It's that they don't have the time or resources," Dr. Hanson said. He added that education alone will not produce change. Peer-reviewed and benchmarked data combined with ongoing education and new technology will yield the best results.

"We have created an environment where people pay attention to all kinds of appropriate test ordering," Dr. Hanson said. "It has set the tone for how we use our test resources to move from a fee-for-service to value-based environment."

Kelley Luedke

Kelley Luedke is a Marketing Channel Manager at Mayo Clinic Laboratories. She is the principle editor and writer of Insights and leads social media and direct marketing strategy. Kelley has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2013. Outside of work, you can find Kelley running, traveling, playing with her kitty, and exploring new foods.