As digital technologies and diagnostic tests converge, patient experience and outcomes will be enhanced. In addition, it may alleviate some of the pressure on the health system and improve the speed and efficiency of the testing process.
Each year in America, over 12 million adults who seek outpatient medical care receive a misdiagnosis, according to a recent study by BMJ Quality & Safety. That translates to about 5 percent of adults, or 1 out of 20 adult patients.
Why Is Diagnostics So Important?
Today’s healthcare system relies heavily on in-vitro diagnostics (IVDs). A strong focus has been placed on their importance in the global effort to combat and control the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Though IVDs only account for 2% of total health care expenditures, they play a vital role in diagnosing diseases, assessing treatment efficacy and patient health status, and even preventing infections.
What Is The Purpose Of Diagnostics?
Diagnostic tests can range from signs and symptoms observed during a clinical examination, imaging tests, biochemical, pathological, and psychological tests. Rarely are testing able to distinguish between the presence or absence of disease. Most diagnostic tests are used to screen for, detect, and monitor diseases. They should be utilized as efficiently as possible.
Consideration of a diagnosis is often triggered by components of the history and physical examination, which lead the clinician to consider the presence of a disease. Another essential factor to consider when making a diagnosis is the experience and knowledge base of the diagnostician, the frequency of the disease, and the clinical relevance of the diagnosis.
Diagnostic Trends Made Possible With Digital Technologies
Digital technology is enabling the diagnostic trends that will shape the future of healthcare. Here are Three trends in health care and how they are transforming the field.
1. Emerging at-home diagnostic solutions and point of care tests
Technological advances enable rapid disease diagnosis, monitoring, and management near the patient – even within their homes. Furthermore, it can reduce the time to results because samples and results are reduced or eliminated. One significant advantage of digitalization is the simplification of testing procedures and analysis of the results in a secure digital environment accessible by healthcare providers.
2. Predictive and personal genetics
Blood, hair, skin, or other tissue samples from a person could be used to help predict future risk of disease in predictive genetic tests. These tests have enormous potential since they can identify genetic mutations that cause genetic disorders before symptoms arise. Such digital tools become extremely valuable and even lifesaving for a predicted disease in which there is a medical intervention or preventive measure.
3. Clinical decision support solutions
Diagnoses can be transformed with Clinical Decision Support tools (CDS). Following the acquisition of test results, Health care professionals are left to interpret the context and meaning of the test output and determine the best next steps in diagnosing or treating their patients. The CDS tools can help sift through vast amounts of digital data to suggest the next steps for treatments, alert providers to helpful information, or identify potential problems such as dangerous drug interactions. To improve patient outcomes, the applications aim to help professionals make better-informed decisions.
Several barriers must be overcome: data privacy, the role of physicians in a digital future, and “solutionism,” which is the belief that technology will solve complex and often ill-defined health issues effortlessly. But there is no doubt that digital trends in diagnostics have the potential to transform fields such as imaging and in vitro diagnostics, making healthcare more affordable and accessible and improving patient outcomes.