From evidence to best practice in laboratory medicine

Clin Biochem Rev. 2013 Aug;34(2):47-60.


Laboratory tests offer value if they provide benefit to patients at acceptable costs. Laboratory testing is one of the most widely used diagnostic interventions supporting medical decisions, yet evidence demonstrating its value and impact on health outcomes is limited. This contributes to wide variations in test utilisation including underdiagnosis, overdiagnosis and misdiagnosis, which may impact the quality and the clinical- and cost-effectiveness of care and patient safety. Therefore implementing evidence into the care of patients is a moral and social imperative to laboratory professionals and all health care staff. This review investigates the reasons research does not get into practice, or only does with a very long delay. Apart from reviewing the common barriers to implementation, it also discusses the drivers of inappropriate test utilisation. By reviewing the theoretical and practical aspects of implementation science, recommendations are made for approaches that are thought to be most effective and that can be adopted to close the gap between evidence and practice, and to facilitate evidence-based laboratory medicine. Passive dissemination of the evidence and educational interventions are insufficient and do not offer sustainable solutions. A multifaceted and individualised implementation strategy, including individually tailored academic detailing, reminder systems, clinical decision support systems, feedback on performance, and participation of doctors and laboratory professionals in quality improvement activities addressing test selection and interpretation and in clinical audits, has greater potential for success. Examples of these initiatives at the laboratory and clinical interface are provided with links to valuable resources.

Publication types

  • Review