WASHINGTON – Noting a paradigm shift among consumers who are seeking greater control over their own healthcare, AACC issued a position statement today on direct-to-consumer laboratory testing, which allows people to order medical tests directly from a lab without having to work with their healthcare provider. The statement emphasizes direct-to-consumer test results must be accurate and easily understood—an area where laboratory medicine professionals play a vital role.
Laboratory test results are key to patients getting the care they need, and in the past, state laws limited the ordering of these tests to physicians. However, as people have become more engaged in managing their own healthcare, this model has begun to change. Currently, 37 states and the District of Columbia permit consumers to order some or all of their laboratory tests without the involvement of a physician. Individuals can also buy over-the-counter test kits or get laboratory services from non-traditional settings such as retail centers. These direct-to-consumer lab tests can provide invaluable information to individuals about their health status in a timely and convenient manner. However, many healthcare providers and policymakers are concerned that some of these tests may be of questionable quality and value, or that consumers might not have enough background knowledge to make sound decisions based on their test results.
To enhance patient benefit from direct-to-consumer testing, AACC urges the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Food and Drug Administration to require that direct-to-consumer testing providers disclose sufficient information about their products and services, enabling consumers to make fully informed health decisions. These providers should employ user-friendly descriptions of risks, benefits, and limitations of all tests offered; clear and understandable reports of test results, with enough information to assist in decision-making; prominent instructions to contact a qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns; and a comprehensive, public listing of tests offered and prices charged, according to AACC’s position statement.
Laboratory medicine professionals are integral to all aspects of this consumer-driven process. AACC encourages lab professionals to collaborate with federal agencies to inform the public about the costs, benefits, interpretation, and limitations of direct-to-consumer tests. Likewise, consumers should consult qualified healthcare professionals about test results and when making decisions about their healthcare.
“Direct-to-consumer laboratory testing is a key element of ongoing efforts to empower people in decisions affecting their healthcare,” said AACC CEO Janet B. Kreizman. “AACC supports expanding consumer access to high-quality direct-to-consumer testing services, and urges policymakers to ensure that these services have demonstrated clinical validity and utility and make a positive impact on patient outcomes.”
Dedicated to achieving better health through laboratory medicine, 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.