WASHINGTON – AACC has released a position statement on harmonization of—or ensuring uniformity among—clinical laboratory test results to help patients receive appropriate diagnoses and medical treatment. With this statement, the association aims to raise awareness about this essential healthcare issue and urge the medical community to work together to make harmonization a reality.
The few laboratory tests that have been harmonized to date, such as those for cholesterol, glucose, and hemoglobin A1c, have made a marked positive impact on diagnosis and treatment of heart disease and diabetes. In addition to improved patient care, harmonizing these tests may also lead to reductions in healthcare spending. As a striking example, the initiative to harmonize cholesterol tests only cost $1.7 million per year, while the health benefits it has yielded now save more than $338 million annually.
With the release of the American Heart Association (AHA) and American College of Cardiology’s new cholesterol guidelines, uniform cholesterol test numbers are more important than ever. These guidelines advise doctors to include additional variables—such as gender and blood pressure—into the AHA’s risk calculator to assess a patient’s risk of cardiovascular disease and need for cholesterol-lowering drugs. Without uniform cholesterol test numbers, physicians will not have accurate risk calculator results on which to base their treatment decisions.
To ensure that progress in harmonizing all types of test results continues, AACC has spearheaded the International Consortium for Harmonization of Clinical Laboratory Results (ICHCLR), an oversight body that will organize the worldwide effort to harmonize the most important diagnostic tests. In the harmonization position statement, AACC provides basic guidance on the role laboratory organizations, clinical societies, regulatory agencies, the in vitro diagnostic industry, reference material providers, and other stakeholders can play in contributing to the ICHCLR’s endeavor.
“Results of patient lab tests should be comparable regardless of the method used, the time they were analyzed, or the laboratory that produced them,” said AACC President Robert H. Christenson, PhD. “New guidelines for cholesterol underscore this need. In situations where doctors depend on several risk factors in addition to test results to make treatment decisions, there cannot be discrepancies between test results if they are to be useful within the context of a patient’s overall health and medical history.”
AACC’s position statement on harmonizing clinical laboratory test results is the first of a planned compendium of such statements that will detail the association’s stance on important healthcare issues.
Dedicated to achieving better health through laboratory medicine, the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) brings together more than 50,000 clinical laboratory professionals, physicians, research scientists, and business leaders from around the world focused on clinical chemistry, molecular diagnostics, mass spectrometry, translational medicine, lab management, and other areas of breaking laboratory science. Since 1948, AACC has worked to advance the common interests of the field, providing programs that advance scientific collaboration, knowledge, expertise, and innovation. For more information, visit www.aacc.org.