Patients find answers about lab tests at Lab Tests Online

July 21, 2003

(Philadelphia, PA) --More than 200,000 people each month visit a unique web site to find answers to questions regarding medical lab tests. The two-year-old web site, Lab Tests Online (http://www.labtestsonline.org), provides detailed descriptions of a broad range of tests, including common tests such as cholesterol and glucose, and newer tests like ApoE and Tau/Ab42, which are helpful in diagnosing Alzheimer's Disease. The site also offers in-depth articles on such related topics as reference ranges, test reliability, genetic testing, and home testing.

Lab Tests Online is the only web site devoted solely to the topic of laboratory testing that has also been developed by the clinical laboratory community. Led by the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC), the site is an ongoing collaboration among 14 laboratory associations representing most, if not all, of the clinical laboratorians in the US and Canada.

Designed exclusively to serve the patient's need for information, the noncommercial site is easily navigated, delivering explanations on why a test is performed, how it is used, and what the results might mean. It also connects users to an ever-growing number of context-relevant pages on web sites such as NIH's Medline Plus and the American Diabetes Association.

For those users who can't find the answers to their questions, Lab Tests Online offers a confidential email service run by one of its partners, the American Society of Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS), through which patients and family members can ask questions and receive answers from clinical laboratory scientists. This patient response network is integrated into the test template on Lab Tests Online -- users need only click on the "Ask Us" tab included in each test description to access it. Web users can access the service directly through the ASCLS web site at http://www.ascls.org.

User questions reflect a broad range of information needs: help in interpreting specific test results, how to lower glucose levels, and how to better understand what a tumor marker is. All questions receive a prompt, courteous response - except those in which the user has neglected to include their email address.

ASCLS currently responds to over 400 comments and questions a month, with about a quarter of the comments coming through Lab Tests Online. All responses from the consumer network are delivered via email and handled confidentially. Clinical laboratory scientists with expertise in each area of the laboratory, including Chemistry, Hematology/Coagulation, Blood Banking, Immunology, and Microbiology, help individuals understand the meaning and implication of their test results. The ASCLS service, like Lab Tests Online, has become a bridge between the patient and physician, enabling patients to understand their laboratory results and reinforcing what their physicians explain.

Feedback from users who have received responses from Lab Tests Online and the ASCLS service has been overwhelmingly positive. Users have expressed their gratitude not just for the helpful information, but also for the simple courtesy of a personalized response, a site feature that is all-too-infrequently found on the web.

In some instances, responses to users have been generalized and incorporated into existing pages on Lab Tests Online to enhance or clarify the information already there. Earlier this year, for example, one user's question on uric acid testing led to an expanded explanation of the effects of aspirin on uric acid levels. The challenge now is to continue to make these updates a more routine part of the ongoing development of the web site.
-end-
The American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) provides national and worldwide leadership in advancing the practice and profession of clinical laboratory medicine and its role in improving health care. Members develop and perform tests conducted in hospital laboratories, clinics, medical centers and other health care settings.

The American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS) is the oldest and largest non-registry professional society representing 12,000 non-physician clinical laboratory practitioners. The society's members include clinical laboratory directors, managers, supervisors, hematologists, immunologists, educators, clinical chemists, microbiologists, phlebotomists and other professionals.

Editor's Note: To schedule an interview with someone from Lab Tests Online, please contact Donna Krupa at 703-527-7357 (direct dial), 703-967-2751 (cell) or djkrupa1@aol.com. Or contact the AACC Newsroom at:
215-418-2429 between 8:00 AM and 4:00 PM EST July 20-24, 2003.

AACC NEWSROOM OPENS SUNDAY
JULY 20, 2003
@ 12:00 NOON EDT
Pennsylvania Convention Center
Room:303B
Tel. 215-418-2429

American Association for Clinical Chemistry

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