The launch of the automated lab at Grand River Hospital (GRH) one year ago has resulted in big changes to the laboratory process, quality of testing and wait times for patients. The automated lab system is the first of its kind in Canada and is manufactured by Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, Sysmex and Stago.
Although the installation cost of $3.2 million is high, this technology is used for approximately 2.2 million patient tests a year and resulted in an immediate 10% reduction in test result turnaround times, as well as reduced treatment delays and patient length of stay. "The automated system has certainly played a big role in optimizing lab performance by improving our workflow," says Cherrie Martinez, a medical lab technologist at GRH. "It has made our job a lot easier and we can get more tests done faster."
The system is linked through a single integrated track, allowing for the carrying of specimens to various pieces of equipment that prepare, test and retrieve samples for further testing.
The Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) was on Parliament Hill last week speaking with parliamentarians regarding the shortage of medical laboratory technologists (MLTs) in Canada. "The federal government can play a lead role in ensuring that ALL Canadians have access to essential medical services," said CSMLS President Chris Hirtle. "Possible strategies to address the shortage are increasing the number of new graduates, better integration of internationally educated lab professionals into the Canadian workforce, and incentive programs to recruit MLTs to rural and remote communities."
CSMLS discussed with parliamentarians three simple solutions to proactively address the shortage.
Educational programs cannot increase seats without corresponding clinical placements, making this a bottleneck in the system. These spots are scarce due to staffing shortages, crushing workloads and lack of dedicated education personnel. What is needed: targeted funding for dedicated clinical educators and research into the value and effectiveness of clinical simulation.
Most internationally educated laboratory professionals require education upgrading to bring them up to Canadian standards. What is needed: long-term and sustainable funding for bridging programs.
Recruiting MLT graduates to rural and remote communities is a significant challenge for Canadian medical laboratories. What is needed: the federal government should commit to forgive a portion of Canada Student Loans for MLTs similar to other health professions in order to increases employment in these areas.
Chief Executive Miles White of Abbott Laboratories Inc. made a comment, during a post-earnings conference call that it would not be appropriate to discuss whether his company had a continued commitment to buy Alere Inc. for $5.8 billion. The acquisition of Alere would promote Abbott to become the leader in point-of-care diagnostic testing. The statement has fueled speculation around the deal, which was agreed upon in February but may not close.
In March, Alere was subpoenaed by the US Department of Justice to provide documents relating to sales practices and would, therefore, delay filling their annual report. Due to the delay in filling their proxy and shareholder vote, White signaled a potential hesitation in his comment. Thereafter, Alere's stock tumbled approximately 18% to $40.51.
First launched in 2013, a Toronto start-up company called Figure 1 produced an app (iOS and Android) that allows for image sharing of medically relevant cases to spur discussion and inquiry around the world. Described as "the Instagram for doctors and healthcare professionals", the app has gained over a million users.
To upload a picture, the user must be a verified medical professional (not limited to physicians). The range of images is expansive and includes everything from enlarged tongues and rashes, to petri dishes full of deadly bacteria. In addition to case solving purposes, the app has been used to share interesting diagnoses as well as new procedures and technology. It may act as a valuable resource for academic programs to demonstrate and share images.
Log in and check this app out for some "clinically significant and arguably beautiful" images!
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