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Patients benefit from pathology project slashing unnecessary tests

Dr Jeremy Wellwood and Therese Kelly are part of the Choosing Wisely project improving pathology ordering practices

A Gold Coast Health initiative to reduce unnecessary pathology testing for patients is attracting national interest.

Since the Choosing Wisely Pathology pilot project was implemented 15 months ago, the health service has seen a 2 per cent drop in the number of tests ordered despite a 10 per cent increase in patient activity.

Gold Coast Health Choosing Wisely Pathology Project Manager Therese Kelly said the health service was ordering an average of 96,000 public pathology tests a month, which has now been reduced to an average of 93,500 while caring for a growing number of patients.

The reduction in ordering unnecessary tests has been achieved through medical, nursing, and pathology representatives working together.

“We are reducing unnecessary routine and repeat tests that don’t provide any benefits to our patients,” she said.

Ms Kelly will share Gold Coast Health’s strategy and success with other health professionals in Melbourne on 4 May at the Choosing Wisely Australia National Meeting.

“Pathology testing is a vital tool for our clinicians in diagnosing and determining the most appropriate treatment for our patients.

“By collating data about pathology ordering practices, our clinicians could see where patients were receiving the same test too frequently with little benefit to their care.

“With this data providing a clear picture, doctors can then have conversations about what tests are best for managing patient diagnosis and treatment,” Ms Kelly said.

The project’s clinical sponsor and Gold Coast Health haematologist Dr Jeremy Wellwood said the project is having a real impact on patient care.

“This project encourages our doctors to only choose pathology tests that will make a difference to a patient’s clinical care.

“When you’re very unwell, you don’t want to have a test if you don’t really need one. Seeing the data on pathology orders first hand has enabled our clinicians to make wiser choices,” Dr Wellwood said.

Gold Coast Health became the first hospital and health service to join the national Choosing Wisely initiative with its pilot project and is nationally recognised as a Champion Health Service for commitment to providing value-based care in pathology testing.

Last updated 02 May 2017