Does an electronic pathology ordering system change the volume and pattern of routine testing in hospital? An interrupted time series analysis

J Clin Pathol. 2023 Apr 21:jcp-2023-208850. doi: 10.1136/jcp-2023-208850. Online ahead of print.


Aims: Identifying and reducing low-value care is a vital issue in Australia, with pathology test ordering a common focus in this field. This study builds on previous research and aimed to quantify the impact of the implementation of an electronic ordering (e-ordering) system on the volume of pathology testing, compared with manual (paper based) ordering.

Methods: An audit and analysis of pathology test data were conducted, using an interrupted time series design to investigate the impact of the e-ordering system on pathology ordering patterns. All medical and surgical adult inpatients at a tertiary referral hospital in Newcastle, Australia, were included over a 3-year period.

Results: Overall, there were no statistically significant differences in the volume of orders due to the implementation of the e-ordering system. There was a slight increase in the aggregated volume (tests per admission and tests per bed day) of tests ordered across the entire study period, reflecting a secular trend.

Conclusions: Despite providing greater visibility and tracking of orders, we conclude that the implementation of an e-ordering system does not, in and of itself, reduce ordering volume. Efforts to identify and reduce low-value care will require intentional effort and specifically designed educational programmes or hard-wired algorithms.

Keywords: ELECTROLYTES; EPIDEMIOLOGY; Pathology Department, Hospital.