By - July 05, 2023
For the medical laboratory, progress and innovation are one and the same. As healthcare technology, treatments, policies, and practices advance at an unprecedented pace, the laboratory must ensure it is not simply keeping pace with ever-changing landscapes, but rather leading and embracing change.
Doing so allows pathology and laboratory medicine to explore new ways of thinking, and new approaches to practice that have the potential to reveal previously uncharted or hidden insights. In turn, leading and embracing change can lead to monumental breakthroughs that push the level of high-quality care to new heights—earlier detection of diseases, development of innovative treatments, truly personalized care.
This issue of Critical Values explores many of the ways pathology and laboratory medicine continues to ideate, innovate, and initiate how the laboratory further solidifies its position as the foundation of high-quality care.
In the article “Bioethics and the Laboratory,” Drs. Kamran Mirza and Cullen Lilley discuss what bioethics in the laboratory entails and provide a better understanding of how it interplays in almost every facet of a pathologist’s or laboratory professional’s work.
“When the medical community thinks of clinical bioethics, they don’t think of the behind-the-scenes patient care that the laboratory does,” Dr. Mirza says in the article. “But any time you face a question that doesn’t have a perfect yes or no answer, that’s a time you have to use your bioethical decision-making.”
Imperative to change is understanding that learning and education never cease and are necessary to lead. How we learn, however, continues to evolve, and the recent interest in and rise in microlearning courses speaks to that. The article, “The Benefits of Microlearning for Laboratory Professionals and Pathologists,” looks at how these shorter, more focused learning opportunities are helping pathologists and medical laboratory scientists advance in their learning, despite their increasingly busy personal and professional lives.
One of the more impactful changes the laboratory is witnessing is the rise of artificial intelligence (AI). While the benefits are numerous, there are many who fear that AI will replace human workers in the laboratory. In the first of a series of articles about AI and the laboratory, the article, “Why AI Won’t Replace Laboratory Professionals and Pathologists” breaks down that myth and explores how AI is a valuable tool that can help pathologists and laboratory professionals augment, not replace, their skills.
As Dr. Ulysses Balis notes in the article, with all AI, “The analogy is, you want to have an adult in the room. And that’s where pathology and laboratory medicine expertise really shine. For recognizing, through expertise and experience, what is unusual or unique and then bringing that to bear on the problem the additional investigation needed to arrive at that new diagnosis or insight.”
To embrace innovation and change in pathology and laboratory medicine gets to the heart of what the laboratory strives for— providing the highest level of care for patients. By fostering an environment of open-mindedness, intellectual curiosity, and questioning the status quo, we become leaders in collaborative efforts that promote the dissemination of best practices, analyzing emerging trends, and challenging existing paradigms. As pathologists and medical laboratory scientists, it is our collective responsibility and wisdom that guides us down the path of continuous progress and innovation. When we are one in our pursuit of change to help not only our profession, but our patients, this community is STRONGERTOGETHER.
Thank you for your continued support of ASCP. Please send me your comments and suggestions at Blair.Holladay@ascp.org. My very best to each of you.