Future laboratories will support self-care

Published 19.05.2017
Author Virpi Ekholm
Photos Olli-Pekka Latvala

Piia Aarnisalo, Director of Laboratory Services at HUSLAB, predicts that a considerable change will take place in the operations of clinical laboratories: their services will increasingly start to target patients directly.

Currently, laboratories in the health care system primarily only offer patients sample collection services. On the other hand, sample collection is centralized almost completely to health care professionals in Finland.

I do not think this can continue. It is not expedient in terms of the patient care process or the role of the laboratory and, in my opinion, it is not necessary in terms of good quality, Piia Aarnisalo said in her speech at Mylab’s 30th anniversary celebration.

Instead, Aarnisalo believes and hopes that laboratories will assume a more solid role in supporting point-of-care testing and patients’ self-care. Pivotal in this shift will be information systems, in which patients can review their own health information, enter their own information and interact with the treatment unit.

In the future, we will need very interactive and user-friendly user interfaces for patients as well. In my opinion, having laboratory information only available in this interface is not enough, instead we will need a user interface that integrates all diagnostics and, preferably, all health information, Aarnisalo envisions.

Blurring the boundaries of specializations

Piia Aarnisalo believes that basic analytics and the monitoring of diagnosed illnesses will rely heavily on point-of-care analytics in the future and a great deal of this will be handled by patients themselves.

Laboratories will only be in charge of initial diagnostics, demanding specialized analytics and hospital-level emergency analytics.

At the same time, we must ensure that Finnish laboratories continue to offer high-quality specialized analytics services. That is why we will need solid research, product development and teaching in the future as well, Aarnisalo emphasized.

She also anticipates that boundaries between specializations in laboratories will disappear in the future. The same methods can be used to conduct tests in different specializations and efficiency will improve through increased synergies.

From a competence viewpoint, the services offered by laboratories will increasingly be divided into generic analytics and specialized diagnostics, Aarnisalo predicts.

Click here for Piia Aarnisalo’s full presentation (in Finnish)

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