New data released from Lab Tests Online Australasia (LTOAU) indicates that healthcare professionals and consumers are accessing the pathology information portal in greater numbers.
Curated by an editorial board of pathologists and medical scientists, and funded through the Department of Health Quality Use of Pathology Program. LTOAU provides plain English information about every government funded pathology test available in Australia.
The site aims to provides answers to common questions relating to pathology tests and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every month.
One in two Australians receive a pathology test every year. Growth in consumer curiosity about their pathology tests is leading to a rise in visits to LTOAU as a reputable online destination.
With content aimed squarely at Australian consumers, a recent LTOAU survey found that nearly a third of site visitors are healthcare professionals – often from nursing roles, allied health and students.
LTOAU Chair, Associate Professor Susan Benson, welcomes the growing interest from consumers and healthcare professionals.
The data confirms that LTOAU has an important role in meeting the needs of Australian healthcare professionals and students as well as the primary audience of health consumers. The content available on the LTOAU site includes information explaining reference ranges and how to read lab test reports. The goal of LTOAU is to increase pathology health literacy, promote health consumer active participation in their health care and allay anxiety”.
Traffic data from LTOAU found that the most popular searches on the site were related to liver function tests (LFTs), full blood examinations and urine cultures.
With FBEs and urines among the most ordered tests, Dr Benson says it’s not surprising the popularity of queries around liver function.
“Liver functions tests results are not uncommonly outside the reference ranges which might explain why people are searching for information. The topic is also among the most popular LTOAU YouTube videos on the site”.
Australian health consumers can potentially access their own pathology test results via My Health Record. The Australian Digital Health Agency have included a direct link to the LTOau website from the pathology section of My Health Record. Increasingly Australian pathology providers are also embracing the patient-centred care by promoting LTOau as Australia’s resource for explaining pathology tests.
For consumers registered in the My Health Record, a significant proportion of their health record is likely to be made up of pathology reports, and LTOAU is now signposted in the platform.
Health consumer advocate Pip Brennan from the Western Australian Health Consumer’s Council says LTOAU is an important resource for consumers.
“Consumers are the most invested in their health, but they’re least empowered. With LTOAU there is that confidence with consumers that this is really good evidence based and disinterested information. This is the sort of resource where consumers have the information they need at their hands”.
LTOAU is working with Curtin University students and the WA Health Consumer Council in a multidisciplinary integrated learning project to better understand health consumer needs and ways to optimise the LTOAU resource. Benson says the team of over a dozen from a range of backgrounds and learning disciplines have made a great difference
“It’s been energising getting new expertise and perspectives. The students have enjoyed it and been enthusiastic. It’s great to get academics and the next generation involved and build capacity for digital strategies for consumer health engagement and education and in shaping LTOAU into the future”.
More information about Lab Tests OnlineAU is available at labtestsonline.org.au