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February 8, 2019

Potential Excessive Testing at Scale: Biomarkers, Genomics, and Machine Learning

Author Affiliations
  • 1Computational Health Informatics Program, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Department of Biomedical Informatics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 3Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA. 2019;321(8):739-740. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.0286

A culture of advocacy and promotion for aggressive testing may arise when a biomarker or its sequelae yield financial benefit to drug and device manufacturers, procedure-based specialties, hospitals, or laboratory testing services or is increasingly requested by patients. Excessive testing can also lead to costly and harmful care, including false-positive results, overdiagnoses, and unnecessary treatments. Economic pressures, obfuscated intentionally or inadvertently, can drive increased use of biomarkers, a phenomenon that could be termed “biomarkup.”

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