Report specialists: ‘Technology makes home diagnostics better possible’

There are many developments in the technological and scientific field that are changing healthcare and diagnostics. This is stated in a recent position paper from medical specialists. Thanks to smart technology, for example, more and more tests can be performed at the GP or even at home. The introduction of all kinds of wearables, such as the new Apple Watch with several medical features, even gives the concept of home diagnostics a whole new dimension.

Interaction between diagnostic techniques and treatment

Examples of technology that are important in diagnostics are the development of connected self and personal medicine. The interplay between diagnostic techniques and treatment of patients is increasing. Point of Care Testing (PoCT) is increasingly used in general practice and in hospitals, ie the use of laboratory tests close to the patient. There are such tests to diagnose heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis or problems with blood clots. Some tests can even be performed by patients at home.

Home diagnostics with health gadgets and wearables

With the introduction of ‘health gadgets’ and ‘wearables’, the concept of home diagnostics, also known as baseline diagnostics, has in any case become much broader and more intensive. With wearables, blood sugar levels can be monitored permanently and shared with a GP. In the near future, technological development will accelerate. ECG and event recording on the smartphone already exist and the affordable ultrasound probe is already there. Home diagnostics provides a huge potential added value, such as saving time for the patient and the attending physician. But also improved availability of specialist care for the patient, cost savings, better disease management and improvement of documentation options.

Assurance and quality assurance home diagnostics

Of course, there are also risks. These are primarily the quality of the measuring equipment, the quality of exchange and storage of data, timely identification of deviating values ​​and insufficient overall quality assurance. In addition, home measurements can provide unnecessary restlessness and unnecessary medical attention due to incorrect goals or misinterpreted goals. The diagnostic specialists will contribute their expertise to the proper application of home diagnostics. For example, by validating diagnostic methods and techniques and by providing information to patients. The role of the patient also changes: With the availability of his own patient record and the use of home diagnostics, the patient has more information regarding his own diagnostic and treatment process and can exercise greater control over this.

The role of a diagnostic physician is changing

With the changes that occur as a result of technological and social developments, the role of the diagnostic specialist also changes. It moves from executive to integrated care with increasing substantive interpretation and consultation in the diagnostic phase. But a clear monitoring role during the treatment of a patient is also of great importance. This means that there is an intensive collaboration between diagnostic departments, with other professionals inside and outside the hospital and with the patient. The emergence of network medicine across the care line, the technological development and the increasingly specific application possibilities for diagnostic tests also require explicit knowledge from diagnostic medical specialists. This includes the use of the right research at the right time and the correct interpretation of the information.

Networks and smart algorithms

Networks are important for realizing innovations. It is important that professionals in well-structured networks can respond decisively and flexibly to innovations in applicants ‘and patients’ diagnostics and needs. Sharing specialist knowledge and expertise within the regions will not only increase quality but also save costs. Examples of this are the already existing regional diagnostic test consultations (DTOs) between laboratory specialists and applicants, whereby step-by-step more efficient diagnostic algorithms are implemented in an entire region. The learning capacity of this kind of opportunity is very effective for all parties.

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