SHalasey BBB_1136_crop100x100pWhile navigating their course through the many market challenges of recent years, developers of commercially approved medical products have sometimes been heard to remind policymakers and payors that the advance of health technologies should not be taken for granted.

Without question, the phenomenal progress in healthcare that has taken place over the past 50 years has not come without struggle. Scientists and clinical researchers, entrepreneurs and investors, purchasers and early adopters have each played roles in shepherding products along the path to regulatory approval and acceptance by government and private payors.

Working in both academic and commercial settings, clinical laboratorians have also contributed to these advances in modern healthcare, conducting the basic research necessary to identify biomarkers with clinical utility, and devising new technologies and approaches for detecting and analyzing those biomarkers.

But along the way there have been many good leads that didn’t pan out, ideas that failed to capture the imagination of fickle investors, and technologies that proved too costly for the clinical benefit they provided. For every test that has been accepted for use in clinical laboratories, undoubtedly scores of others were dropped.

It’s good to remember this context when reviewing a group of still-evolving products that seem destined for market, as displayed in this month’s feature on Emerging Technologies. As close as they may be to finding their way onto the healthcare market, the remaining obstacles may be formidable; nothing about the progress of such technologies should be taken for granted.

Later this month, in San Jose, the American Association for Clinical Chemistry will host the successor to its long-standing Oak Ridge Conference, now renamed as the Emerging Clinical and Laboratory Diagnostics Conference. Taking as its 2014 theme “The Portable Lab,” the conference will feature presentations grouped into four scientific sessions:

  • The Promise of Connected Noninvasive Devices
  • Mobile Medical Apps: The New Frontier
  • Miniaturized Devices of the Future
  • Point-of-Care Diagnostics for Resource-Limited Settings

The technologies that are being brought together under these headings demonstrate the sophistication and complexity of modern clinical diagnostics. With tools that make use of the latest developments in fields ranging from microelectronics to microfluidics, it’s clear the next generation of lab tests have the potential to continue the advances of the past.

Now if they can only clear those last few hurdles.

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