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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Laboratory Effectiveness: Clinical Laboratory Utilization. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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What is Laboratory Utilization Management (UM)?

UM is also referred to as 'resource utilization' or 'lab stewardship.' UM is the discipline whereby clinicians, laboratory professionals, and administrators work together to ensure that laboratory tests and results provide real clinical benefit to patients while ensuring that laboratory testing is both cost-effective and appropriately used. In short, UM is about doing the right test, at the right time, for the right patient, for the right cost.
Health care costs in the United States have been rising sharply over the past four decades. In fact, the U.S. spends more on health care than other industrialized nations that have a similar quality of life (see graph). In order to control spending, health care professionals must strive to be more efficient and effective.
The goal of UM is to maintain or improve the quality of care without increasing the cost of laboratory testing. As will be discussed, some laboratory tests are ordered too frequently, and sometimes laboratory tests that are considered obsolete are still ordered. There are also more esoteric (and expensive) laboratory tests available today than at any other time in history. As the field of laboratory medicine grows, we must proactively work to make sure that laboratory testing is contributing to positive health outcomes rather than just driving up budgets.