This project aimed to deliver findings, compared between multiple hospital sites and different pathology departments, about the impact of electronic ordering systems on the quality use of pathology services. It aimed to achieve this through the development of a benefits realisation framework that assesses: quality (ensuring that the right process is performed well and meets identified needs and other relevant standards);19 effectiveness (the best possible outcome) or success of the intervention;20 and timeliness (turnaround times).21 This involved an examination of the impact of the electronic ordering system on key indicators of laboratory performance and the quality use of pathology across the following areas:

  • the legibility and completeness of laboratory test orders and the impact on Central Specimen Reception work processes.
  • the volume and mix of tests ordered examined by such factors as Diagnosis-related Groups (DRG), controlling for clinical activity where appropriate, and the prevalence of add-on and repeat testing.
  • the timeliness of the pathology laboratory process.
  • the impact of laboratory performance (e.g., laboratory test turnaround times) on the duration of patient stay in the emergency department.
The project provided key comparative (between six hospitals) and longitudinal (over time) evidence about the effects of electronic ordering systems; and produced a benefits realisation framework that can be used to monitor what works (or doesn’t work), where and in what circumstances. The outputs of this project can be used to enhance the application of electronic ordering systems in hospital pathology settings. The project was funded by an Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, Quality Use of Pathology Program grant.

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