It has been my privilege to serve as Executive Producer of Lab Tests Online for the last twelve years, overseeing its launch in the United States and expansion into 16 other countries. Of course, to say I “oversaw” the launch does not quite capture the roll-up-the-sleeves intensity of those early days in 2001 when I and then-intern Ellen O’Connell worked sometimes through the night and in collaboration with our Editorial Review Board to build and develop all that became the foundation of Lab Tests Online. In those first two years, the pace was unrelenting as we continued to develop, learn, and re-develop various aspects of the site, steadily improving the content and laying the groundwork for a model that would dramatically alter the scope of our work in a few short years.
We were fortunate to get some early signs that our efforts were paying off, first in the form of several awards for the quality of the content and the great public service the site provided, and also in kudos bestowed upon the site by the media. In the first month after launch, the Washington Post commended the Lab Tests Online design as a “masterfully simple page”, and then several years later, after numerous other plaudits in the media, Prevention magazine, the leading consumer health publication in the US, dubbed it one of the “smartest health sites on the web”. Today, labtestsonline.org averages more than 2.3 million visits a month, and it anchors a global network of websites that have been translated to 14 languages and adapted to local policies and practice in 17 countries. Worldwide, 33 million people visited at least one of the Lab Tests Online sites in 2012.
I’ve learned some things as I’ve worked with the professional societies and editors of Lab Tests Online around the world. First, I’ve learned that laboratory medicine in every country I’ve visited is the same vital component of the healthcare system that it is in the United States, and that laboratory testing is similarly overlooked when it comes to communicating with patients about their health situation. Laboratory professionals, industry, and government all have a stake in increasing the visibility of laboratory medicine and its critical role in medical decision-making. I’ve also learned that the very busy professionals who have taken on the enormous task of adapting Lab Tests Online to their own country and then committed to keeping the content up-to-date are not only expert in their fields but also passionate about patient education.
These things, I believe, are the secrets to the success of Lab Tests Online, and explain why it has become a global standard for patient education.
– George Linzer, Executive Producer, Lab Tests Online