In certain respects, the noted physician and healthcare strategist Eric Topol, M.D., of Scripps Healthcare in La Jolla, California, can be considered a gadfly to pathology and the laboratory medicine profession. In his latest pronouncements on patient-centered healthcare, he warned clinical labs about the need to stay ahead of the technology wave that is transforming clinical diagnostics. At the recent 2014 Digital Health Conference in New York, Topol called attention to how smartphones, apps, and other inventions are poised to transform lab testing. In offering the example of Theranos as disruptive technology, he is reported as saying “This is a game-changer for lab medicine and if the national labs don’t keep up, they will have to change.”
MORE ON: Topol
It was back in 2013 when our sister publication Dark Daily reported on Eric Topol’s comments about the need for anatomic pathologists to change long-standing practices in tissue processing and storage. In a column published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Topol and several colleagues took pathologists to task, noting that formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue can cause the DNA to degrade. That is increasingly a problem, given the growing role of gene sequencing and genetic analysis in cancer diagnosis and treatment. Topol and his co- writers suggested that it was time for pathologists to adopt methods, such as fresh-freezing tumor specimens, that would preserve the DNA for later testing.
NEW LABS UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Despite the tough financial challenges in the lab testing market, a number of new lab facilities are under construction. For example, in New York City, Shiel Medical Laboratoriesis building a new 240,000 square foot lab facility at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. In Roanoke, Virginia, three colleges are collaborating to build a common anatomic pathology laboratory to serve patients and teach students. The lab will be built by the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, Radford University, and Jefferson College. The pathology lab will be located in the Carilion Roanoke Community Hospital, in the same building that houses the Jefferson College of Health Sciences. In Grand Rapids, Michigan, Michigan State University will build a new laboratory for its medical school. Target date for opening the MSU lab is the second half of 2014.
Dark Daily Update
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…why specialist physicians are establishing their own versions of patient-centered medical homes. One example is New Mexico Cancer Center. This oncology-based medical home is spawning similar clinics in Florida, Georgia, Maine, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Texas.
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That’s all the insider intelligence for this report. Look for the next briefing on Monday, January 5, 2015.