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Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology
Volume 36, n° 6
pages 995-998 (juin 1997)
Doi : 10.1016/S0190-9622(97)80285-X
Clinical review

Log-in/log-out time: A quality factor for a reference laboratory—Prolonged times for skin pathology processing in managed care-authorized laboratories

Neal S. Penneys, MD, PhD, MBA
 Department of Dermatology, Saint Louis University Health Sciences Center, St. Louis, Missouri, USA 

*Reprint requests: Neal S. Penneys, MD, PhD, MBA, Department of Dermatology, 1402 S. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63104.

Managed care organizations may divert skin biopsy specimens to commercial laboratories selected on a cost basis. Diversion to these laboratories could result in service of decreased quality for the patient and referring physician. Log-in/log-out dates were collected for all specimens submitted to managed care-authorized laboratories either from a university-based clinic or from a private practitioner's office for a period of 18 months and compared with data obtained from a local dermatopathology laboratory. A subgroup of specimens containing inflammatory diagnoses or nondiagnostic changes was also examined. Mean log-in/log-out times were 1.338 days in the dermatopathology laboratory, 6.123 days in managed care-authorized laboratories from the university site, and 7.798 days in managed care-authorized laboratories from a practitioner's office. The differences between the dermatopathology laboratory log-in/log-out times and those of the managed care-authorized laboratories were statistically significant (p < 0.0001). The conclusion from this study is that a quality indicator defined as time from log in to log out revealed a significant increase in interpretation time at managed care-designated laboratories. Although managed care plans can decrease their financial risk by contracting with national laboratories to provide all services for a set fee, a decreased quality of service can be demonstrated.

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