What Will the Future Bring?
As I was browsing some of the other ADVANCE blogs, I was struck by the commonality of themes between healthcare professions. It seems the different disciplines face many of the same issues (e.g., staffing problems, budget crunches, boosting productivity and morale), and many of the same fears (e.g., making an error that harms a patient, the uncertain direction of the profession).
Take the health information technology field, for example. This breed of "MTs" transcribes dictated and recorded notes from physicians. As new advances produce equipment that essentially performs the same duty, MTs wonder if they will someday be replaced by technology.
The laboratory field is not immune from these thoughts. With innovations like the "Swish and Spit" test-a solution that when gargled, has the potential to diagnose cancer-and a growing number of do-it-yourself at home diagnostics, is anyone starting to wonder about the fate of the clinical laboratory scientist?
If in the future, all blood is universal, cervical cancer is wiped out, and cancer diagnoses are made over a capful of mouthwash in a morning routine, where does that leave the bloodbankers, cytologists and pathologists?
Do I think the role of the laboratorian will be usurped by machines, vaccines and direct-access testing? No. But I do think roles will change, or at least shift slightly. Whether that means more focus on researching new tests, monitoring and personalizing treatments, or educating patients and physicians about test values is yet to be seen. What do you think the future will bring?