SHalasey BBB_1136_crop100x100pIt’s an every-show occurrence. When I am visiting with the many companies that supply the clinical laboratory community, in media briefings or at their exhibit booths, someone will inevitably ask me, “What are you hearing from other companies?”

So, without your asking, here are just a few things I’ve heard from companies at the 2014 meeting of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry, in Chicago—the largest expo for the clinical laboratory community. As I write, the show has just 1 more day to run—and I hope to hear a lot more—but what I have heard is already pretty interesting.

Whether big or little, data is a big deal. Companies have invested heavily in developing integrated information technologies with a wide range of capabilities, from systems operation and inventory management to broad auditing and analytical functions based on compatibility with laboratory information systems. High-end instrument functions include unified control of multiple automated lab systems, Internet-based access, and restricted instrument access based on completion of staff training modules. Many manufacturers aspire to go beyond mere data points by creating actionable information flows and testing algorithms that can reduce costs while improving efficiency and providing better patient care.

New clinical technologies are more than just buzz. Companies continue to expand the menu of molecular diagnostics; mass spectrometry is attracting new suppliers as well as new users; and point-of-care systems continue to evolve in useful directions based on user experience. Companies are paying attention to research demonstrating the utility of circulating tumor cells for early detection of cancer, as well as opportunities for developing companion diagnostics for new drugs in oncology and other fields.

Global availability is the future state. Especially in infectious disease testing, developers are paying special attention to the need for tests that can be run anytime, anywhere, with minimal need for additional resources. Hardened technologies that meet the challenges of infectious disease testing are also migrating to other uses, including cardiac and chronic disease care. Patient self monitoring is a realistic outcome for the not-too-distant future.

Faster, better, and with reduced overall costs. Test developers feel the same performance and cost pressures as their laboratory customers, and they’re responding with improved technologies that meet the ever-more-stringent requirements of the evolving healthcare environment.

Value: watch for it. In vitro diagnostics manufacturers understand and support the value proposition of their clinical lab customers. Defining and demonstrating this value appears to be an emerging theme for future elaboration.

If you don’t recognize your suppliers’ current themes and buzzwords, never fear. There are always tomorrow’s company visits to look forward to.

Steve Halasey
Chief Editor, CLP
[email protected]
(626) 219-0199