Convergence of molecular diagnostics & anatomic pathology

by | May 2, 2018 | Blog

In the quest for precision medicine, anatomic pathology (AP) and molecular diagnostics are in higher demand than ever before — and converging in many ways as we seek to uncover the finest underpinnings of disease. A recent article in Scientific Computing World covered the value of laboratory process integration and specifically called out the convergence of molecular testing and anatomic pathology as central to the development of specialty diagnostics. As anatomic pathology and molecular diagnostics become increasingly intertwined, healthcare labs positioned to succeed will be those that are able to thoughtfully integrate molecular diagnostics and anatomic pathology lab workflows to truly maximize the combined value.

Purpose-built molecular diagnostics support technology

To conduct molecular diagnostics and genetic testing, a lab should invest in a workflow enablement tool built specifically for the complexity of molecular tests such as fluorescent in-situ hybridization (FISH) or next-generation sequencing (NGS). A purpose-built laboratory information management system (LIMS) can scale for greater test volume and handle the specific challenges molecular testing brings, including numerous steps and rapid pace of change.

Molecular testing is also generally more costly than traditional clinical testing, rendering the cost of error much greater and deserving of tailored controls that can be provided by technology developed specifically for molecular work. Labs conducting NGS testing may wish to add technology support beyond a LIMS system in the wet lab, adding genetic analysis support software to help enable efforts in the dry lab.

So how does this all relate to anatomic pathology workflow?

Integrating molecular diagnostics and AP testing

Labs conducting both AP and molecular testing will want to implement a LIMS (and potentially genetic analysis support software) developed specifically for molecular medicine but will then want to make sure these tools are integrated with their AP enablement tools to maximize value all around.

A strong AP lab information system and a strong molecular LIMS system side-by-side are essential for healthcare labs performing specialty diagnostics, but integrating these systems for aligned anatomic pathology lab workflows, data, and reporting is where the real value lies for increased efficiency and higher-quality patient care driven by the pathologists’ diagnostics insights made possible by combining AP and molecular diagnostics.

A thoughtful integration would enable this value by:

  • Eliminating manual and duplicate data entry in multiple systems
  • Providing contextual access to order entry and results
  • Aligning the workflows of related orders
  • Streamlining and consolidating reporting

As a result, labs should expect:

  • Improved patient care and reduced potential for error
  • Improved efficiency and throughput time for combined testing
  • Greater clinician and patient satisfaction

The future of laboratory information system integration is now

As stated in the Scientific Computing World article referenced in the beginning of this post, “While some laboratories still cling to traditional processes and paper-based workflows, there is huge potential for a new world of integrated technologies that can enable new research or increase a laboratory’s throughput or capability for collaboration.”

Indeed, as medical disciplines increasingly overlap and converge as part of the precision medicine effort to look at each patient as an n-of-one, merging data and reporting for an integrated experience on both the back end and front of care will be critical to treating the whole person. As each patient is a sum of their parts, so too is the power of the integrated anatomic pathology and molecular diagnostics technology behind their care.

About the author

Kiran Ganda

Director of Product Marketing, Precision Medicine

Having worked exclusively in health technology organizations for more than fifteen years, Kiran is passionate about innovations in patient care.

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