By Diana Trinh, MLS(ASCP)CM
Clinical Analyst, MD Buyline
Scientists, professors, laboratory professionals, and vendors from a wide array of diagnostic specialties gathered last week at the 69th American Association of Clinical Chemistry (AACC) Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo in San Diego this week.
They presented topics relating to ways of tackling current issues and showcasing innovations in laboratory automation, data analytics, and diagnostics. Diana Trinh and Dennis Matricardi, clinical analysts from MD Buyline, filed reports exclusively to HealthCare Business News from the meetings and expo.
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A recurring theme among the educational and vendor sessions at this year’s AACC has been how to transform health care from the fee-per-service to the value-based ideology. Its goal is not to revolutionize health care, but to bring the health care business back to its Hippocratic foundational roots by placing the patient’s health first, above all else.
The idea is to bring down costs while improving quality by shifting patient management from a reactive to a proactive approach, and to charge a bundled fee based on patient outcome rather than separate charges for each diagnostic test and treatment service. The stress will be on preventative care and elimination of inefficient or ineffective protocols and wastage. One result, it is believed, will be reduced readmission rates by utilizing innovations in personalized medicine and assessing aftercare compliance.
In theory, this transformation will provide a structure for a more standardized, holistic, and cooperative approach among the different health care disciplines and facilities. Because of the invaluable diagnostic data laboratories provide to determine the course of treatment, the AACC presented several topics on antibiotic stewardship, laboratory outreach, and standardization.
Antibiotic resistance has increasingly become a major problem. News stories of superbugs that are becoming resistant to our last line of defensive antibiotics are now all too common. The rate of antibiotic development cannot keep up. The growth of resistance has been caused by antibiotic overutilization. For example, antibiotics are often prescribed for acute bronchitis, but a majority of cases are due to viral infections for which antibiotics are useless. So how do we change the traditional method of prescribing antibiotics?
Antibiotic stewardship programs call for a collaboration between vendors, laboratories, pharmacies, and physicians to assess current protocols and come up with solutions. Traditionally, presentations of fever and high white cell counts lead to an antibiotic prescription that is further refined once organism identification and susceptibility results are obtained two to five days later. Vendors like BioMerieux, BD, and Cepheid presented their solution to the traditional culture methods by developing rapid molecular diagnostic testing for organism identification. By identifying the organism’s DNA within hours of presentation, correct antibiotic selection can be made from the start. Studies have shown this stewardship program has led to reductions in antibiotic therapy, mortality, readmissions, and adverse drug events.