Topics such as the application of big data to Laboratory Medicine, talent management, and resident training were addressed
The SEQCML, in Zaragoza, addresses the changing model facing Laboratory Medicine, during a conference in which professionals were the protagonists
• One hundred people attended the sessions, between SEQCML members and representatives of the Administration and the in vitro diagnostic industry
• Another of the objectives of the conference was to promote and stimulate collaboration with other scientific societies
Laboratory Medicine, which plays an essential role in the healthcare process, has been facing a process of paradigm change in recent years, derived from the incorporation of new technologies. These technical advances imply great possibilities for improvements that benefit patients, but also make it necessary for clinical laboratory professionals to update their knowledge and management models.
In order to help these professionals update their knowledge, the Spanish Society of Laboratory Medicine (SEQCML) recently organized a Conference on the Future of Laboratory Medicine. The event, which took place in Zaragoza, served to strengthen reflection and debate on the Laboratory Medicine’s current situation, strategic outlook, and its future projection.
More than a hundred people, the majority of them members of the SEQCML, together with representatives from the Administration, from the in vitro diagnostic industry, and from scientific societies in the healthcare field, participated in the sessions that addressed topics such as the application of big data to Laboratory Medicine, talent management, and resident training in the face of the challenge of unifying the Clinical Analysis and Clinical Biochemistry specialties.
Big data applied to Laboratory Medicine
One of the central issues of the conference was that of technological developments and how advances such as big data can influence the way patients' clinical data are collected and managed. "Currently, laboratories already process large amounts of data and it can be said that, quantitatively, they are the main data producers and processors in health organizations," said Dr Fernando Cava, Director of Laboratorios Unilabs-BR Salud, who indicated that the greatest impact of technologies such as big data lies in the possibility of finding hidden information, combining massive data from different sources to obtain relevant information for the patient.
As explained by Dr Cava, "the more information we can associate with the patient, the greater the ability to obtain knowledge and beneficial results for the patient and the population in general." "In this sense, laboratories and their professionals should play a significant role," he added.
In this fast-changing environment, Laboratory Medicine must redefine its position, not only acting in its classic role as a provider of laboratory results, but also adopting new roles and responsibilities in the clinical dialogue with patients and doctors. All this will entail "new responsibilities and ethical and legal issues", according to Dr José Puzo, Head of the Clinical Analysis and Biochemistry Service of the San Jorge University Hospital (Huesca), who during the conference coordinated the session entitled 'The role of the Laboratory Medicine specialist in the laboratory of the future: classic and new skills, abilities, and responsibilities'.
“Our role in health services is and will be increasingly complex. We work with people, technology, processes, and systems. We have to be leaders and team members,” summed up Dr Puzo, in relation to the need for better management of talent and laboratory teams. The specialist also pointed out some of the future trends that will reduce hospital visits, such as virtual inter-consultation, day hospital, or home hospitalization, which will be a challenge for laboratory professionals. “’De-localized medicine‘ presents us with the need to obtain analytical tests outside the conventional healthcare environment and ensure fast, reliable, and safe results,” he said.
The future of training in Laboratory Medicine
The Conference on the Future of Laboratory Medicine was also aimed at contributing to reducing a certain sense of uncertainty that exists in the Clinical Laboratory field after the unification of the specialties of Clinical Analysis and Clinical Biochemistry was cancelled following the repeal of the Royal Decree that implemented the core subject training system. As the Ministry of Health has stated its intention to resume the merger of the two specialties, the conference hosted a session entitled ‘Resident training in the specialty of Laboratory Medicine. Specialty program in the core subject' in which it sought to get a head start on what could be the resident training program in the new and unified specialty. This was presented in relation to the other issues discussed in the Conference, technological advances and changes in personnel management.
“The current programs of the Clinical Analysis and Clinical Biochemistry specialties have become somewhat obsolete. Continuous technological changes and the new advances in scientific knowledge itself make an exhaustive revision of them necessary, adapting them to the current reality ”, explained Dr Josep Lluís Bedini, Head of the Operational Area of the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona and coordinator of the session, who stressed that the organizational changes that have occurred in a good part of the laboratories of the country have been an additional challenge for both the training of residents and for professional development.
Collaboration with other scientific societies
One of the objectives of this conference was to promote and stimulate collaboration with other medical scientific societies, in order to highlight the value of Laboratory Medicine. “We want to be the engine of change of the Clinical Laboratory model; so that, guaranteeing the quality of the results and the sustainability of the system, we can provide the value that both the patient and society need,” said Dr Isabel Llompart, regional coordinator of the Balearic Laboratories Network and Head of the Clinical Analysis Service of the Son Espases Hospital, who coordinated a session focused on collaboration with other scientific societies.
Among the issues that were brought up, the following topics, among others, were addressed: how to facilitate the exchange of scientific information; establish consensus protocols for the diagnosis, prognosis, and monitoring of patients; promote studies that help define the value of the implementation of analytical tests in the health of the population, and establish areas of collaboration in the area of training