Effect of a Performance Feedback Dashboard on Hospitalist Laboratory Test Utilization

Caroline McCormick, Sarvpreet Ahluwalia, Ankur Segon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Healthcare spending continues to be an area of improvement across all forms of medicine. Overtreatment or low-value care, including overutilization of laboratory testing, has an estimated annual cost of waste of $75.7-$101.2 billion annually. Providing performance feedback to hospitalists has been shown to be an effective way to encourage the practice of quality-improvement-focused medicine. There remains limited data regarding the implementation of performance feedback and direct results on hospital laboratory testing spending in the short term. OBJECTIVE: The objective of this project was to identify whether performance-based feedback on laboratory utilization between both hospitalists and resident teams results in more conservative utilization of laboratory testing. DESIGN, SETTING, PARTICIPANTS: This quality improvement project was conducted at a tertiary academic medical center, including both direct-care and house-staff teams. INTERVENTION OR EXPOSURE: A weekly performance feedback report was generated and distributed to providers detailing laboratory test utilization by all hospitalists in a ranked system, normalized by the census of patients, for 3 months. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: The outcome measure was cumulative laboratory utilization during the intervention period compared to baseline utilization during the corresponding 3 months in the year prior and the weekly trend in laboratory utilization over 52 weeks. The aggregate laboratory utilization rate during intervention and control time periods was defined as the total number of laboratory tests ordered divided by the total number of patient encounters. Additionally, the cost difference was averaged per quarter and reported. The week-by-week trend in laboratory utilization was evaluated using a statistical process control (SPC) chart. RESULTS: We found that following intervention during January-March 2020, the cumulative complete blood count utilization rate decreased from 5.54 to 4.83 per patient encounter and the basic metabolic panels/CMP utilization rate decreased from 6.65 to 6.11 per patient encounter compared with January-March 2019. This equated to cost savings of ~$42,700 in total for the quarter. Nonrandom variation was seen on SPC charts in weekly laboratory utilization rates for common laboratory tests during the intervention period. CONCLUSIONS: We found that our intervention did result in a decrease in laboratory test utilization rates across direct-care and house-staff teams. This study lays promising groundwork for one tool that can be used to eliminate a source of hospital waste and improve the quality and efficiency of patient care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-278
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of medical quality : the official journal of the American College of Medical Quality
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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