Steering a path towards integrated diagnostics

Imagine trying to describe a flower by looking at a black and white photo. You can probably make a good guess of the structure, but without adding colour into the picture you could miss vital information about the subject you are studying.

In medicine, something akin to this is driving calls for more integrated diagnostics. Radiologists, for example, do work that is closely related to pathology and genomics, but in practice these professions tend to work in silos.

A more cross-disciplinary approach could improve patient outcomes by offering a more complete view of medical conditions, according to a paper in Radiology last October.

“In recent years, however, voices have been raised calling for tighter collaboration creating deeply integrated workflows between radiology, pathology and genomics,” note the authors.

They advocate giving diagnosticians a greater role in deciding on follow-up studies and say the use of integrated diagnostics, increasingly supported by computational methods, could help cut costs as well as improving diagnoses.

“Whenever no mindset or organisation barrier exists between disciplines, the most appropriate examination can be selected, regardless of whether the diagnostic examination is offered by radiology, pathology or a laboratory-based test, including genomics,” says the paper.

“In this way, costs can potentially be reduced by shortening pathways and avoiding unnecessary studies.”

Interestingly, commercial healthcare services providers have started to move towards a more integrated approach, too. In 2017, for example, Unilabs conducted a number of acquisitions of various diagnostic groups throughout Europe.

The goal is to become the leading European supplier in genetics, lab medicine, pathology and radiology, where quality and new solutions such as integrated diagnosis and innovative application of artificial intelligence become key components.

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