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The laboratory medicine sector is expected to witness a significant development of more effective treatments by embedding technological advancements in treatment strategies.
FREMONT, CA: The laboratory medicine sector is witnessing several advancements and is anticipating a massive transformation in the future. Many previous predictions about the industry have come into existence, and future predictions are expected to play a crucial role in laboratory medicine and its subspecialties. Right patient, right drug, the right time has been the guiding principle in pharmacogenetics lately, and concepts like nanotechnology, biosensors, genomics, proteomics, and microchips will define laboratory medicine in the future.
There are numerous advancements predicted for the future and certain predictions have already been translated into practice.
Laboratory Organisation and Staffing
As a consequence of laboratory consolidations, massive supra-regional tertiary centres or laboratory networks are expected to dominate the life sciences sector in the future. Due to the commoditization of laboratory tests, competition between laboratories for hospital work and outsourcing of services, the number of laboratories is declining. In the future, laboratory services will be more focused on specific populations, such as the elderly. Haematology, transfusion medicine, biochemistry, and immunology will be unified under the umbrella of ‘blood sciences.’
The role of laboratory staff will be widened to deal with demand management and provide additional consultative services related to laboratory testing. Laboratories will focus on quality control, reducing laboratory errors, eliminating unnecessary testing, and addressing challenges in global harmonisation. Therefore, two major trends are emerging in this field: Consolidation of conventional laboratory testing and an expanding new market for near-patient testing. However, cost containment and cost-effective operations will be larger concerns for the laboratories in the future.
Additionally, laboratory staffing shortages are also emerging as a challenge to the sector. Certain measures to deal with this issue include reducing staffing needs by consolidating and automating routine operations. Although these strategies are approachable, combining services such as radiology and pathology seems unfathomable. Several experts have suggested that clinical laboratory services may be outsourced to nations with similarly advanced facilities while recurring lower costs. Therefore, to ensure global standards are met, there are quality programmes like The International Standards (ISO).
Introduction of Robotics and Automation
Using humanoid technology and transport models to carry samples is an intriguing concept in laboratory medicine, although they have not come into practice. Human robots now have limited capabilities and the automation and robotic processes have been relatively slow in laboratory-specific fields such as microbiology, molecular, and anatomic pathology. Automation has advanced, but only because of the use of software that enhances connectivity between analyzers, information systems, and electronic medical records. Since the need for more cost-effective laboratories is increasing, the demand for automation and robotics will also rise. Therefore, machines will have a vital role to play in laboratories in the future.
Many experts opine that future laboratory medicine will imbibe testing at point-of-care or near to the patient as a larger treatment process. These procedures will include testing at home into patient management strategies. It offers a myriad of advantages, such as low cost, portability, simplicity, flexibility, and built-in quality control. The introduction of wearable devices is a significant step toward achieving point-of-care testing. Mobile technology will aid these testing procedures and will play a critical role in laboratory medicine.