Digital laboratory and its role in immediate treatment and diagnosis

Digital laboratory and its role in immediate treatment and diagnosis

Overview

  • Post By : Kumar Jeetendra
  • Source: Microbioz India May 2017 Issue
  • Date: 29 May, 2017

There is the need for a change of scale for laboratory services for the Laboratory Modernization Programme. Although the initial focus was on internal efficiencies within the test production process, the same logic applies to innovative ways of using laboratory services. Indeed a focus solely on local test production misses opportunities for laboratory services to work in different ways to enhance care pathways, enable patients to take control of their chronic disorders and save resources outside the laboratory and across health economies.

Where changes such as patient access to the results of their blood tests have been introduced, the main benefit has been in a reduction in the number of visits required by patients – the use of this innovation by Kaiser Permanente is a widely recognized example.

Using laboratory services differently must be based on improving quality of care as well as increasing efficiency. Laboratory underpins the majority of clinical interactions and clinical value chains can only be unlocked if laboratory services are coordinated in concert with clinical services. The gains from digitization described in this report accrue when pathways are joined up across care settings and clinical networks. Quality is a major part of the equation in achieving value. Technology innovation such as standardization of laboratory reporting through the use of the National Laboratory Medicine Catalogue, digital techniques in laboratory and genetics will be essential to achieve quality improvement.

The benefits of digital laboratory delivered include:

  1. The People feel more in control of their health through better access to test results
  2. Multi-disciplinary teams having timely information and specialist advice to enable better treatment planning
  3. Better workflows between wards and labs to improve turnaround times and improve patient care
  4. Better identification and management of samples to enhance patient convenience and safety and reduce    the cost impact of re-testing

The challenge now is for commissioners and providers to understand how laboratory benefits service delivery, and then drive change and enable digital innovation in laboratory to help realize wider, longer-term strategic objectives.

The need for transformation in models of delivery, focusing on producing great value care with the best outcomes for patients, has never been greater. Early diagnosis to prevent premature mortality, care of long term conditions, and acute care are all areas in which pathology has an enormous role to play, not only in supporting clinical teams, helping design pathways, and making results visible and interpretable for patients, but also in innovation to make the pathways faster and better.

Pathology is leading the way in the use of digital technology, with the automated disciplines at the leading edge. In cellular pathology I have seen the way in which my own practice has changed, to include order communications and electronic delivery of reports, bar coding of cases, use of electronic templates, voice recognition for complex narrative upload, electronic requesting of addition special stains

Because pathology supports healthcare throughout care pathways, there are many innovative digital enhancements that will have a significant impact across health service delivery, helping clinicians delivery evidence based care and helping patients manage their own conditions. p>

The Pathology Modernization Programme and the Carter Review both recognized the need for a change of scale for pathology services. Although the initial focus was on internal efficiencies within the test production process, the same logic applies to innovative ways of using pathology services. Indeed a focus solely on local test production misses opportunities for pathology services to work in different ways to enhance care pathways, enable patients to take control of their chronic disorders and save resources outside the laboratory and across health economies. Where changes such as patient access to the results of their blood tests have been introduced, the main benefit has been in a reduction in the number of visits required by patients – the use of this innovation by Kaiser Permanente is a widely recognised example.

Through our primary care and other clinicians and healthcare professionals, we rely on pathology to help:

  1. Diagnose our illnesses
  2. Screen us for congenital diseases, cancer and other conditions
  3. Monitor the progress of disease and manage our therapies

Pathology has embraced digital technology to enable it to deliver these services. Because pathology supports healthcare throughout care pathways, there are many innovative digital enhancements that will have a significant impact across health service delivery, helping clinicians delivery evidence based care and helping patients manage their own conditions.

The ability of digital to enable effective pathology service delivery must start with understanding user needs – patients, clinicians and commissioners. We need to appreciate that digital is only an enabler – the first step is to understand how services can be designed to better serve patients while also delivering safer and more efficient care. Digital, by its nature, can open up new possibilities and can inspire different ways of thinking – it should never be applied for its own sake, but we should be at a stage where digital is not merely as an add-on option.

We have to ensure that services are accessible to all of those who need them, and we are living in a digital world where people now expect to be able to access information and services in a way and at a time that is convenient for them and the benefits of delivering through digital channels can be huge.

This report contains a number of great examples from across the NHS in England where digital thinking has helped to deliver real service enhancements

References
  1. Report of the Second Phase of the Review of NHS Pathology Services in England, Lord Carter of Coles (2008)  
  2. Report of an audit by NHS Connecting for Health on test reporting standards in electronic pathology messages sent to primary care, Gifford Batstone (2012)  
  3. ClinBiochem Review Feb 2008 29(1): 3-10 cited in Service Improvement in Blood Sciences (NHS Improvement - Diagnostics, Jan 2013)

About Author

Scolastica Rebecca Bello

Scolastica Rebecca Bello

Rebbeca is acting as an editor cum International representative of the Microbioz India magazine.