Making doctors aware how much money is spent for each blood test ordered will help stop unnecessary healthcare spending and save money, says a U.S. study. Blood tests are a necessary for modern medicine. Experts believe they are used more than is medically necessary. The study states unneeded tests make up a big part of the large healthcare costs. Elizabeth Stuebing at the University of Miami, and her research team, discovered that weekly announcements of the last week’s costs to surgery staff produced savings of about $55,000 in less than three months. “Simply knowing the costs helps these providers be more judicious about their test ordering behavior. As of now, many providers, especially house staff or residents, are completely unaware of the costs of any of the care they are providing,” she said.
The study was conducted at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence. During the study, Stuebing and her team saw daily patient charges for blood tests drop from almost $150 to $108 after 10 weeks—more than 25 percent. “The problem is that ordering these tests is often part of a daily routine, and they seem relatively inconsequential and inexpensive when compared to things like MRIs, but we forget that all those little tests add up to a significant amount over time,” said Stuebing.
A. Benedict Cosimi from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, wrote in an editorial that accompanied the study. He stated, “Wasted medical spending has been estimated to account for as much as one-third of the $1.5 billion the United States expends annually for medical care, and inappropriate, redundant, or unnecessary tests and procedures have been suggested to encompass the biggest area of such waste. I believe that such simple, low-cost and readily repeatable interventions provide one of the most easily applied strategies for influencing clinicians’ test and medication-requesting behavior.”