Congress is considering policy options that may significantly increase federal funding for comparative effectiveness research (CER), which could have significant ramifications for lab testing.

CER is an evidenced-based research tool that compares different health services or treatment options for the same condition, so health care professionals can personalize patient care.

An increase in CER studies may provide labs with important information for assessing tests and improving test selection. The studies may provide needed data for new guideline development. Potential pitfalls are how payers would use the data, such as restricting coverage or reducing payments for certain tests—and the fallout for clinical labs and test developers.

AACC and ASCLS will present the 90-minute Impact of Comparative Effectiveness on Laboratory Testing audioconference on May 21, 2008, from 2 pm to 3:30 pm Eastern time. Presenters will probe ongoing government initiatives regarding CER, how labs can use CER to improve lab operations, what role CER may play in guidance development, how health care payers may use CER data, and the latest on congressional efforts regarding CER.

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