Project backed scientifically by the Spanish Society of Laboratory Medicine
- The initiative aims to offer information about clinical analyses to the general public
- Adapted to Spain by an Editorial Committee, it includes information on some 1,200 tests, news, and other resources
- LTO ES (www.labtestsonline.es) exceeds 300,000 monthly users from all Spanish-speaking countries
The Internet has made available to the entire world a great deal of information on any subject, including health. The problem now is to distinguish serious and reliable information from unverified data. Lab Tests Online (LTO) was created with this objective in mind, and is a website that offers rigorous and quality information in the specific field of medical tests. It is an initiative backed in Spain by the Spanish Society of Laboratory Medicine (SEQCML), which was charged with developing the version of this site for Spanish-speaking countries, LTO ES (www.labtestsonline.es). LTO ES has the WMA (Accredited Medical Web) seal and follows the principles of the HON Code (Health on Internet Foundation).
"In today's society, people are increasingly concerned about their health and seek out information on how to stay healthy longer," explains Dr. Marià Cortés, director of the Editorial Board of LTO ES. He notes that, with this in mind, the tool was designed to help provide better understanding of the work performed by clinical laboratory professionals. The website is aimed at the general public, but it can also be useful for health professionals. "The clinical laboratory is usually unknown to the general public, despite the fact that around 70-75% of medical decisions are made taking laboratory data into account," says Dr. Cortés.
Thus, Dr. Cortés believes that LTO ES can be a great help in the interpretation of laboratory tests. "Knowing what is analysed, what it is used for, how the result is interpreted, etc. ... can help users understand better the report they receive from the laboratory and why the included tests were requested", he explains. "We also believe that "it can be a practical source of information for general practitioners, especially for more specialized laboratory tests,", adds the specialist.
The LTO ES website includes information on around 1,200 tests and is constantly updated. The site allows access to the information by searching for the name of the test or the associated physiological condition. It also offers an information section. "We try to maintain a periodic frequency of publication of health news related to the clinical laboratory that is aimed at the general public, so that they can become aware of the importance of the laboratory in the overall context of health care," says Dr. Cortés.
In 2017 the website was visited by more than 3.7 million users, with an average of 310,500 visits per month; this usage data is four times higher than in 2014. Although the website is managed in Spain and adapted to its specificities, a significant number of visits come from other Spanish-speaking countries. In fact, Spain is the country with the largest audience (28.14%), followed by Mexico (20.98%).
11 years of LTO ES
Lab Tests Online (LTO) began as an initiative of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) at a time when the Internet was beginning to become popular, in 2001. Starting the following year, the Spanish Federation of Health Technology (FENIN) and the Spanish Society of Laboratory Medicine (SEQCML) tried to reach an agreement with the AACC to develop a Spanish version of this website. An agreement was not reached until 2006, and was signed between the AACC and the European Diagnostic Manufacturers Association (EDMA), allowing the Scientific Societies of European countries to translate the content of the website, adapting it to the specific circumstances of each country.
This is how Lab Tests Online began in Spain, Germany, France, Italy, and Greece, with a common content management system managed by Engitel. The Spanish version of Lab Tests Online first appeared in March 2007. "For its development, we had a large team of laboratory medicine professionals who, under the tutelage of the Editorial Committee, were in charge of translating the content of the American website and adapting it to the characteristics of our country ", explains Dr. Maite Panadero, member of the editorial committee of LTO ES.
Over the past 11 years, LTO ES has been enriched by the progressive incorporation of the American website´s content. In recent years, in addition, its presence in social networks has been enhanced by the publication of news items prepared in Spain, and related to various aspects of health or disease prevention, which were published on the LTO ES website and shared on different social networks. This, according to Dr. Panadero, is aimed at attracting a younger audience.
In addition, the doctor notes that the website has recently been migrated to the American website´s management system, which was in the redesign phase. This has not only improved the management of the website but also its design. "The current www.labtestsonline.es not only looks much more attractive, but is also more user-friendly and simple to use; it is also 'responsive', that is, adaptable to all types of devices."