Optimize Your Electronic Medical Record to Increase Value: Reducing Laboratory Overutilization

Eduardo Iturrate, Lindsay Jubelt, Frank Volpicelli, Katherine Hochman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Purpose The purpose of this study is to decrease overutilization of laboratory testing by eliminating a feature of the electronic ordering system that allowed providers to order laboratory tests to occur daily without review. Methods We collected rates of utilization of a group of commonly ordered laboratory tests (number of tests per patient per day) throughout the entire hospital from June 10, 2013 through June 10, 2015. Our intervention, which eliminated the ability to order daily recurring tests, was implemented on June 11, 2014. We compared pre- and postintervention rates in order to assess the impact and surveyed providers about their experience with the intervention. Results We examined 1,296,742 laboratory tests performed on 92,799 unique patients over 434,059 patient days. Before the intervention, the target tests were ordered using this daily recurring mechanism 33% of the time. After the intervention we observed an 8.5% (P <.001) to 20.9% (P <.001) reduction in tests per patient per day. The reduction in rate for some of the target tests persisted during the study period, but not for the 2 most commonly ordered tests. We estimated an approximate reduction in hospital costs of $300,000 due to the intervention. Conclusion A simple modification to the order entry system significantly and immediately altered provider practices throughout a large tertiary care academic center. This strategy is replicable by the many hospitals that use the same electronic health record system, and possibly, by users of other systems. Future areas of study include evaluating the additive effects of education and real-time decision support.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-220
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2016


  • Clinical informatics
  • Electronic health record
  • Laboratory overutilization
  • Quality improvement


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