Survey: Understanding blood test results would lead to healthier behaviors

RARITAN, N.J. — Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, in partnership with the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors, on Wednesday released a survey that determined consumers would more likely discuss health-and-wellness plans with their doctors, and take action, if they understood their blood test numbers.

The survey found that although nearly 90% of people would prefer to discuss blood test results during a doctor’s visit, only about 40% have discussed their results in person, primarily because the results were either mailed or emailed to the patient or the patient never received the results. In addition, some respondents reported that providers told them to assume everything was alright if the doctor did not notify them about the results.

“A key finding from the survey is that patients recognize the importance of their blood test results and want to have the information to participate in their care,” OCD company group chairman Nicholas Valeriani said. “Initiatives, such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ recently proposed rules to provide direct access for patients to their lab test results, will help ensure that consumers can take a more active role in managing their health in partnership with doctors and healthcare providers.”  

Among consumers who reported an awareness and understanding of their numbers, more than a third made positive lifestyle changes, such as changing eating habits, maintaining regular medical visits and paying more attention to test results, to improve their health. Of those who reported that they did not make changes following results of a blood test, nearly 90% said it was because they did not need to make changes to maintain their health.

Based on the survey results, OCD and NACDD recently brought together representatives from government, business, healthcare professional groups and consumer advocates to examine the state of the nation’s health literacy regarding blood tests. The result of this effort, “Fundamentals to Wellness and Prevention: A Call to Action,” is a report that encourages business, healthcare and government leaders to work together to help consumers become more aware of the importance of blood tests, facilitate timely access to test results and help consumers understand their blood test “numbers” so they can translate the knowledge into action.

“Diagnostic test results are your personal healthcare report card, influencing 60% to 70% of healthcare decision-making. It is crucial that people are able to obtain blood test results in a timely manner and understand the basic information provided to have a meaningful conversation with their doctors,” NACDD CEO John Robitscher said.  “Empowering patients to understand the connection between their blood tests and lifestyle may help prevent the onset of a chronic disease, as well as help reduce unnecessary healthcare costs attributed to inadequate health literacy.”

The survey results, “Fundamentals to Wellness” report and “Know Your Numbers” educational materials can be found here.

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