The demands posed by health care law and changing population patterns are driving health care providers to seek new ways to contain costs and improve the quality of care. A report published by the College of American Pathologists (CAP) describes a new pathology-supported decision-making strategy that will greatly improve the quality and value of care.

Clinical decision making has become increasingly complex with rapidly advancing technology and medical knowledge. There are three aspects that are making clinical decision making more difficult, according to this report:

  • Rising number of reports on new tests and treatments and contradictory evidence on efficacy
  • Patient information overload and complexity of managing the data, despite and partly a result of electronic health record (EHRs) implementation and other new information systems
  • Physicians’ limited knowledge of complex nature of genomic medicine and data informatics tools, which prevents their optimal use in decision making

The report points out that these issues can be resolved through a collaborative approach. Physicians and healthcare facilities can raise the value of the care they deliver and substantially improve decision making by teaming up with pathologists and laboratory professionals. Clinician decision making is based on pathology and laboratory tests. Pathologists have in-depth knowledge about advanced laboratory equipment and expertise on testing for all types of diseases. They are also involved in therapeutic recommendations. This vast goldmine of knowledge allows them to provide hospital executive and physicians with innovative decision making tools and services that will improve the quality of care, while containing cost.

The paper cites three instances where pathology-supported decision-making initiatives have been successful in addressing particular hospital target areas:

  • Septicemia – a 36% reduction in average septicemia hospital costs was observed: for 200-400 bed hospitals, cost savings could yield $5 million.
  • Blood product utilization programs – an average, nongovernment, acute care hospital could save up to $1.06 million annually.
  • Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) – ~32% reduction in hospital AKI/acute renal failure cases: cost savings could be as high $7.5 million for 350–500 bed hospitals.

These examples are just a sample of evidence-based services and not indicative of the full potential value of the pathology-supported clinical decision-making strategy. The CAP report says that hospital administrators have already taken the initiative to implement the new approach with pathology-supported diagnostic and decision-making strategies to help clinicians with testing, diagnoses and treatment plans.