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By Reed Richardson

In 2012, McLaren Health Care Corp., the largest integrated health system in Michigan, brought on a new systemwide Chief Medical Officer with a strong interest in driving quality in the organization. Noticing that the health system lagged inefficient blood usage compared to similarly sized institutions, the CMO challenged the organization to make improvements.

Over the next three years, McLaren Health embarked on a blood utilization program that resulted in an estimated cost savings of $37 million, including the cost to purchase and administer blood products and treat adverse reactions. Importantly, the health system estimates that the program saved 184 lives.

In a recent webinar, Dennis Spender, M.D., Medical Director of the McLaren Medical Laboratory, explained why test and blood utilization programs are crucial for all healthcare organizations.

Utilization programs deliver better patient outcomes.

In today’s quality-driven, outcome-focused healthcare environment, health systems are under pressure to increase quality while containing costs. Utilization programs proactively address both these issues. While ensuring that patients get the right tests to further their health, utilization programs cut down on unnecessary tests and risks to patients.

Utilization programs enhance efficiencies.

Studies show that as much as $340 billion is wasted on low-value care each year, including inefficient test orders and processes, and unnecessary transfusions. Lab testing is the single highest volume medical activity in a health system, driving clinical decision making across the organization. In fact, up to 70 percent of medical decisions are based on lab results. Despite this, studies show that the use of lab testing is highly variable and there is no correlation between lab test volume and patient outcomes.

Utilization programs help control costs.

Today, the United States spends two times more per capita on healthcare compared to comparable countries, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, yet it is ranked 40th in the world in life expectancy. It’s clear that spending more money doesn’t necessarily make patients more healthy. When it comes to blood transfusions, the cost of administering alone exceeds the purchase cost, and they are minimally reimbursed, if at all. Utilization programs help health systems weed out unnecessary testing and transfusions and save money.

To learn more about how McLaren Health balances the benefits, risks, and costs involved in testing, listen to our new webinar.

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