Michael Lee Astion, MD, PhD

Michael Lee Astion, MD, PhD


  • Academic Title: Professor
  • On Staff Since: January 2011
  • Biography

    Dr. Astion is the Director of Regional Laboratories, Director of Point of Care Testing, and Co-Director of Reference Laboratories in the Department of Laboratories at Seattle Children’s Hospital and Professor of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at the University of Washington. He stepped down in late 2023 from his previous position as the Medical Director of the Department of Laboratories, which he held from 2013-2023.  Dr. Astion is the Creator and one of the Founders of PLUGS, the Patient-Centered Laboratory Utilization Guidance Service, a unique service that helps hospital-based and commercial laboratories actively increase the value of lab testing through aligning with patients and the insurance industry. His career, which includes experience in adult medicine and pediatrics is divided between clinical service, teaching, and research and development. He has authored more than 25 software titles, 50 peer-reviewed papers, and 100 editorials and interviews. He is working actively, through grants and intellectual property held by the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s, with the insurance industry in the United States to create utilization management rules for clinical laboratory testing. Dr. Astion is a frequent speaker at professional meetings, where he lectures on issues related to laboratory stewardship and management; laboratory economics and outreach; and medical errors. 

    Board Certification(s)

    Pathology - Clinical


    University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA


    Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
    University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA

    Clinical Interests

    Laboratory Management; Laboratory Stewardship; Financial and Medical Alignment of Payers, Patients, and Labs; Medical Necessity and the Standard of Care Regarding Lab Services;  Patient Safety and the Clinical Laboratory; Laboratory Economics; Education of Clinical Laboratory Professionals

    Research Description

    My current work focuses on laboratory stewardship and laboratory management.  Laboratory stewardship consists of 1)access to testing, 2)ordering the correct test, 3)retrieving test results in a timely manner, 4)correct interpretation of results, and 4) fair payment for patients, labs and payers with an emphasis on decreasing financial toxicity to patients.

    My work with payers involves developing, implementing and maintaining medical necessity policies for lab tests, that are cross-walked into payer claims systems and then used to adjudicate submitted claims.  Most of my work is through a Seattle Childrens - Univ Washington organization called PLUGS, which stands for the Patient-Centered Laboratory Utilization Guidance Service. I was the creator and co-founder of this organization which now has more than 100 members, and the members are mostly clinical laboratories, health systems, and payers.

    Research Focus Area

    Health Services Research

  • Related Resources

    • View a list of Dr. Astion's publications on MyBibliography.

  • Patient Testimonials

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  • Awards and Honors

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  • Publications

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  • Clinical Trials and Research Studies

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