"Secondarily, if you showed them these real-time costs as a part of educating them, does it have an impact on their decision making process? We found in particular for things that are lower cost but higher volume are more discretionary in nature, so doctors may be ordering them more reflexively or feel like they are common things that all or many patients should have done. When you starting showing doctors the cost it may help them think a little more about the value of the tests, the combination of how much it costs and how much it is improving that patient's health outcome."
"Whereas when you look at the things that are less discretionary, the more expensive tests that get offered infrequently, when we showed the cost to doctors they tended to have less of an impact on utilization, probably because the doctor at the point of ordering a less frequent but more expensive test has probably thought a little more about the added value of the test and by the time they ordered it they really believed the patient needed to have it done."
Sequist's study adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that significant savings can be achieved by eliminating needless lab tests. In October neurosurgery residents at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center demonstrated that a reduction by nearly 50% in the use of five common lab tests has no effect on patient care.
The reductions generated $1.7 million in savings for payers in fiscal 2011–12, and another $75,000 in decreased direct costs for the medical center, according to a study in Journal of Neurosurgery.