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Introduction/Background

Medical laboratory professionals provide clinical information and services that contribute to the effective delivery of care in today’s complex healthcare system. They are indispensable partners in providing patient-centered care and in improving health outcomes and overall public health.

Clinical laboratory services are one of the most cost effective, least invasive sources of objective information used in clinical decision-making. Clinical laboratory services have a direct impact on many aspects of patient care including, but not limited to, inpatient length of stay, patient safety, resource utilization, innovation in care, customer satisfaction and ultimately patient outcome. 1

Emerging and re-emerging diseases, pandemics, and bioterrorism agents with global impact showcase the crucial importance of identifying, tracking, and monitoring public health threats. Public health response and the need for ongoing surveillance highlights one of many critical needs for clinical laboratory services and qualified laboratory professionals.

 

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Rationale

There are five common domains in which clinical laboratory services provide value within the healthcare system. 2-3 While the most commonly known is the provision of laboratory test results for clinicians, the other domains are of no less importance or value in improving the overall quality of healthcare in the United States.

Clinical Decision Support – Providing Test Results:

Medical laboratory professionals produce objective clinical data using state of the art technologies to guide clinical decision making. This information has a significant impact on patient diagnosis. Tests, whether classified as screening or diagnostic, are essential elements of protocols used to prevent, diagnose, and manage specific diseases and conditions. Algorithmic testing models, designed with other healthcare team member input, are used to guide the diagnostic process to obtain the right information at the right time for a given patient. Additionally, clinical laboratory testing advancements allow for faster provision of results including options that are available at the patient bedside (inpatient settings) or within ambulatory locations. These patient-centered models assist in rapid identification of disease, assessment of severity of disease, creation of a therapeutic plan, and management/monitoring of treatment outcomes.

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