Annual list emphasizes innovations on how clinicians will store clinical data and access it in ways that advance patient care
Each year the Cleveland Clinic announces its choices for the “Top 10 Medical Innovations of the Year.” In its list for 2012, there are at least three top innovations which will involve and engage clinical laboratories and pathology groups.
In particular, two innovations are a change in how medical informatics, including medical laboratory test data will be archived, assessed, and accessed. Here are the Cleveland Clinic’s top 10 medical innovations for 2012:
- Catheter-Based Renal Denervation to Control Resistant Hypertension
- CT Scans for Early Detection of Lung Cancer
- Concussion Management System for Athletes
- Medical Apps for Mobile Devices
- Increasing Discovery with Next-Generation Gene Sequencing
- Implantable Device to Treat Complex Brain Aneurysms
- Active Bionic Prosthesis: Wearable Robotic Devices
- Harnessing Big Data to Improve Heath Care
- Novel Diabetes Therapy: SGLT2 Inhibitors
- Genetically Modified Mosquitoes to Reduce Disease Threat
“What [the list] shows is the opportunity for the power of the use of data and information as a critical tool in healthcare,” said Harry Greenspun, M.D., Senior Adviser, Healthcare Transformation and Technology, Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, in a story in Modern Healthcare covering this year’s list.
Greenspun noted that three innovations in particular—1) data and analytics; 2) medical applications for mobile devices; and, (3) gene-sequencing technology—reflect advancements that can improve the quality and safety of healthcare on a broad level, rather than just in the treatment of a single condition or disease. Clinical laboratory managers and pathologists will recognize that each of Greenspun’s three innovations will require direct engagement by medical laboratories.
Data and Analytics Will Help in Benchmarking
The Cleveland Clinic’s panelists recognized the power of advanced information technologies to revolutionize the ability of providers—and, increasingly, patients—to quickly, efficiently and securely create, collect, search, and share healthcare data.
As a result, these innovations are driving better hospital operations, as well as tracking outcomes for clinical and surgical procedures and for benchmarking effectiveness-to-cost models, the Modern Healthcare piece pointed out.
Dark Daily gave readers a heads up on the healthcare IT and informatics trends. In an exclusive interview, Bruce Friedman, M.D., Active Emeritus Professor of Pathology at the University of Michigan Medical School and President of the Pathology Education Consortium (PEC), identified four big trends in pathology informatics that underscore the recognition by the Cleveland Clinic of the transformative power of these sectors. They include:
- Rapid improvement of digital pathology;
- Emergence of integrated diagnostics;
- Increasing dependence on multiplexed molecular testing; and
- More engagement of the LIS (laboratory information system) to assist and inform test-ordering clinicians about the most appropriate ordering for disease diagnosis.
A second Dark Daily e-briefing addressed how rapid advances in healthcare informatics are raising the stakes for clinical pathology laboratories. (See Dark Daily, “Rapid Advances in Healthcare Informatics Raise Stakes for Clinical Pathology Laboratories”.)
Mobile Medical Applications Will Enable Access to Medical Lab Data
Another trend on the list that Dark Daily readers will recognize is mobile medical applications. A recent e-briefing covered the story of new studies that show mobile computing among physicians is growing faster than in the general population. (See Dark Daily, “Survey Reveals Physicians Like Mobile Computing and Accessing Clinical Laboratory Tests Is One Important Use”.)
In its press release announcing the 2012 list, the Cleveland Clinic noted three benefits that put mobile computing in the top ten list:
- reliable, up-to-date medical information;
- the ability to answer patients’ queries quickly and without leaving the bedside; and
- interactive features that help physicians choose appropriate screening tests for patients and calculate a patient’s risk of developing various diseases.
Gene Sequencing Is Coming Soon to Clinical Laboratories
Number 5 on the list on the Cleveland Clinic’s 10 top medical innovations was the increased pace of discovery through next-generation gene sequencing. Advances in this this technology are moving us closer to the day when gene sequencing is a routine part of a patient’s medical record. This is significant because, according to the Cleveland Clinic press release, the best way to determine the root cause of serious illness is to sequence the patient’s genome.
In the recent e-briefing, “Three Trends in High-Throughput Gene Sequencing for Pathologists and Clinical Laboratory Managers”, Dark Daily informed readers about two factors driving the momentum behind gene sequencing and its expected impact on the future of healthcare delivery. First, sequencing costs are falling rapidly, while speed and accuracy are improving significantly. Second, increasing demand for higher-performance sequencing systems and the rapid expansion of the technical performance envelope are pushing sequencing technology out of the research environment and into clinical diagnostics.
In another recent Dark Daily story, “More Use of Whole Gene Sequencing Poised to Play Important New Roles in Microbiology and Medical Laboratory Testing”, readers learned how advances in sequencing are transforming microbiology and offering the possibility of tracing person-to-person transmission and identifying point sources of infectious disease outbreaks.
The list reinforces Dark Daily’s observation that these trends signal big changes in the delivery of healthcare. It is a reminder that savvy clinical laboratory managers and pathology groups will want to monitor these developments for potential impact on their laboratory’s strategic planning and delivery of laboratory services moving forward.
—Pamela Scherer McLeod