Anyone read this month's issue of Wired (December 2010)?
There is a fascinating article for us lab folks in which the author (Steven Leckart) tapped three designers to re-design the standard lab report. First, let me say that the standard lab report design harkens back to the days of dot-matrix printers and green bar fanfold paper. There seems to be little evolution since. The lab reports from my lab invite more questions from clinicians and I field at least 3 calls per week just trying to cipher the results for the ordering physician! Imagine a patient trying to make sense of their own lab results. Actually, I can. Every few months I receive a pdf by email from my dad or mom wondering what their lab results mean and if the "H" or "L" next to the result is bad. And these are intelligent, health-conscious people who have a pathologist for a son.
The designs are interesting and thought-provoking. See which one you like the best and send your comments. The design "test" somewhat misleading because it focuses on specific panels, e.g. PSA, cardiac risk profile, but the "basic workup" is a fair test. While these designs might have value in the outpatient or office setting, I think they would be unusable for inpatients. Not to say that we couldn't dramatically improve those. But the point of the article is to provide lab reports for patients so that these reports are de-mystified and that patients might be more empowered to manage their own health if there was a more graphical illustration of their "blood work."
In any case, there is lots of food-for-thought for us as pathologists and laboratorians as we address post-analytical issues regarding getting the right information to the right person at the right time in a context for a specific patient so that appropriate action can be initiated.