A Report Template for Molecular Genetic Tests Designed to Improve Communication Between the Clinician and Laboratory

Published In: Genetic Testing and Molecular Biomarkers, 2012, p. 1-9

Posted on RAND.org on July 16, 2012

by Maren T. Scheuner, Lee H. Hilborne, Julie A. Brown, Ira M. Lubin

AIM: Errors are most likely to occur during the pre- and postanalytic phases of the genetic testing process, which can contribute to underuse, overuse, and misuse of genetic tests. To mitigate these errors, we created a template for molecular genetic test reports that utilizes the combined features of synoptic reporting and narrative interpretation. METHODS: A variation of the Delphi consensus process with an expert panel was used to create a draft report template, which was further informed by focus group discussions with primary care physicians. RESULTS: There was agreement that molecular genetic test reports should present information in groupings that flow in a logical manner, and most participants preferred the following order of presentation: patient and physician information, test performed, test results and interpretation, guidance on next steps, and supplemental information. We define data elements for the report as "required," "optional," "possible," and "not necessary"; provide recommendations regarding the grouping of these data elements; and describe the ideal design of the report template, including the preferred order of the report sections, formatting of data, and length of the report. DISCUSSION: With input from key stakeholders and building upon prior work, we created a template for molecular genetic test reports designed to improve clinical decision making at the point of care. The template design should lead to more effective communication between the laboratory and ordering clinician. Studies are needed to assess the usefulness and effectiveness of molecular genetic test reports generated using this template.

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