When Physicians See Costs, They Act Like Consumers
"Our ABO Blood Typing test was ordered 23,000 times in six months. The complete blood count was ordered 76,000 times," Feldman says. "They dwarf how many times these expensive tests are ordered by many, many orders of magnitude."
For example, once physicians were made aware that the price of a basic metabolic panel was about $3.08 cheaper per test than the $15.44 comprehensive metabolic panel, they began to order the cheaper tests and saved more than $27,000 over six months.
It's not just about saving money, Feldman says, noting that using more discretion when ordering tests can improve quality of care.
"There is not only a monetary cost. There are downstream costs when we order tests without a specific reason that can make the ordering of that test extremely costly," he says.
"If you order testing and for some reason it turned out to be abnormal when you didn't think it would that often leads to another test and another test and another test that may in no way benefit the patient. We need to keep all of this in mind when we are ordering tests. We have a responsibility to provide the high-value cost conscious care that this country needs to afford its healthcare system."
Feldman concedes that there will be times when ordering several diagnostic blood tests at the same time is appropriate, even if some of the tests are later shown to be unnecessary, because it's less expensive to get a quicker diagnosis than it is to have patients run up hospital bills while waiting for answers.
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