Over the years, improving speed and quality of service delivery has led to enhanced laboratory equipment and diagnostic technology being used in healthcare facilities across the globe.
Equipment manufacturers and suppliers are at the forefront of driving innovation and providing the best products in market.
According to research done by analysts at Technavio, increasing adoption preventive healthcare, emergence of wellness programs and increasing adoption of premarital screening have helped drive the need for global clinical laboratory services.
Improvements in medical equipment, laboratory products and healthcare technology in recent years has resulted in significantly improved life expectancy and reduced infant mortality rates in developed countries.
The following trends will shape the course of healthcare delivery and laboratory technology in 2018 and going forward:
One of the major trends in the industry that will determine the nature and outcome of care provided by laboratory and diagnostic centres globally is automation.
As medical equipment manufacturers and suppliers move from analog and manual devices to automated devices, the speed and delivery time of service will continue to improve.
This will enable healthcare providers provide better care to more patients and also enable patients obtain better care from their providers.
In the last 10 years, combinatorial chemistry and high throughput screening have profoundly influenced researchers’ ability to produce and evaluate a group of chemical compounds for any number of purposes.
This technology has helped to reduce the average amount of material needed as well as time spent to produce and screen many chemical compounds.
Different industries have benefited from this advancement, most especially the pharmaceutical industry.
With automated chemistry analysis techniques, hundreds of thousands of samples can be analyzed in a single day, increasing productivity and better service for both providers and patients.
In the past, repetitive analytical procedures and experiments took longer duration to process and obtain results.
Today, with automation, a lot of these time consuming, repetitive experimental processes have been cut down and speed of delivery greatly optimized.
Results are now be generated in a far shorter time duration than they were in the past!
With these developments, scientists, laboratory technicians and diagnostic managers can now focus their critical thinking skills on data analysis.
Automation has found application in a number of medical related areas including:
• Robotic surgery
• Primary screening
• Tissue Imaging & Scanning
Different automation tools are being used to aid scientists throughout the entire research process extending to even meet needs outside of the laboratory.
Home-based Monitoring Devices and Wearables
With an increasing reliance on technology and smart devices in recent times, health care has begun to move beyond on-site and in-clinic patient monitoring.
As the global population ages and the public becoming even more health conscious, wearable devices and home-based monitoring solutions are trending.
These have in a some ways help to reduce costs and also allow patients to remain comfortable in their homes and receive care, especially when the health care facility may be a long distance away.
Wearable devices have greatly helped this trend, as they can monitor and record real-time data on physiological conditions that can be transmitted via smart phones, watches, tablets or similar devices.
These wearable devices are now being designed into elastic bands, watches, clothing accessories and can even be attached to the body enhancing point-of-care testing and analysis.
Current and future medical laboratory scientists need to look further into leveraging wearable sensors to develop faster results without having to constrain a patient to staying in what may be an otherwise uncomfortable healthcare environment.
Smaller laboratory equipment
As technology advances, so are laboratory equipment becoming smaller and optimizing for space and mobility.
This, apart from saving space within the facility, also translates into lower equipment costs, and ultimately lower bills for patients.
As the advanced technology replaces the previously used analog equipment, samples are better stored and analyzed at even faster rates and under optimal conditions.
Some advance laboratory equipment even have fluidic components capable of integrating multiple laboratory functions into a single ‘chip’ or shared over a secure local network saving bench space, manpower and money.
Sample sizes are also becoming smaller. With new technology, smaller amounts of samples are required for storage and processing.
These technologies have enabled the transition from individual test-tube sample storage to multiple small wells in microtiter trays.
New technologies have also eliminated the amount of contamination that can occur during sample collection.
Drone use for specimen transportation
Drones are steadily becoming a thing, widely used to transport specimens, vaccines, drugs, and more from remote locations/facilities to where they can be analyzed or applied to save life.
This largely helps to surmount the challenge of traffic congestion in crowded urban areas, as well as when there is a difficulty transporting samples across distant locations.
As far as we can see, technology in the course of the coming years drive the advancement of healthcare and service delivery globally.
It might be via automation, mobile and wearable monitoring devices, leveraging drone technology or smaller laboratory equipment, these trends will prevail in 2018 and well into the future.
As patients become more aware and technology savvy, health care providers and more specifically, medical laboratory scientists must be at pace with these trends.
With more and more progressive technologies emerging, making care more available, efficient, and cost effective, scientists should be prepared to take advantage of them as they continue to play a pivotal role in healthcare delivery.
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