Rationale for cost-effective laboratory medicine.


There is virtually universal consensus that the health care system in the United States is too expensive and that costs need to be limited. Similar to health care costs in general, clinical laboratory expenditures have increased rapidly as a result of increased utilization and inflationary trends within the national economy. Economic constraints require that a compromise be reached between individual welfare and limited societal resources. Public pressure and changing health care needs have precipitated both subtle and radical laboratory changes to more effectively use allocated resources. Responsibility for excessive laboratory use can be assigned primarily to the following four groups: practicing physicians, physicians in training, patients, and the clinical laboratory. The strategies to contain escalating health care costs have ranged from individualized physician education programs to government intervention. Laboratories have responded to the fiscal restraints imposed by prospective payment systems by attempting to reduce operational costs without adversely impacting quality. Although cost containment directed at misutilization and overutilization of existing services has conserved resources, to date, an effective cost control mechanism has yet to be identified and successfully implemented on a grand enough scale to significantly impact health care expenditures in the United States.

Documentos Relacionados