Acelerar el diagnóstico - Speeding up diagnosis

In an increasingly demanding and fast-moving global context, clinical microbiology labs must increase their capacity to speed up diagnosis. Furthermore, they need to prepare themselves for the demanding challenges to come:

  • Managing larger and larger volumes.
  • Increasing the accuracy of results.
  • Speeding up results to improve treatment.
  • Optimising ways to attract professionals.
  • Maintaining the budget demands of the laboratory.

But of the various future challenges facing clinical microbiology labs, which is the priority challenge?

Sener Diagnostics recently conducted a survey among its clients in which this was precisely the question we asked them. Those surveyed were offered various options and they had to choose one.

These were the results:

Speeding up diagnosis: the most important priority for laboratory professionals

62% of those surveyed selected “Speed up the results” as the priority challenge in the next few years. In second place, with 31% of the responses, was “Increase the capacity” of the laboratory, due to the increase in current demand and the growth forecast for the next decade. In third and fourth place respectively were the responses “Reduce operational costs” and “Improved quality of results”, which are already of very high quality at present.

“At all events, speeding up diagnosis must be done while maintaining quality.”

“At all events, speeding up diagnosis must be done while maintaining quality.”

In microbiology, in the past, and it is still the case today, we continue to depend on the growth of the microorganism in question to be able to make the diagnosis, and this may take between 24 hours and weeks, depending on the type of microorganism. We microbiologists would like to be able to produce results in a matter of hours, in order to speed up the diagnosis and begin targeted treatment as soon as possible. This is what is known as the Theranostic concept (a term derived from a combination of the words therapeutic and diagnostic).

This is why new diagnostic techniques are being introduced into microbiology labs.

Rapid diagnosis techniques

First of all, we have the rapid diagnosis techniques. Despite their speed, these techniques have two limitations:

  • They are highly specific targeted techniques, that is to say, there is no surprise due to something unexpected. With the PCR, for example, we ask ourselves the question of whether there is or there is not a particular microorganism, whereas when using a culture technique we can detect any microorganism.
  • Few of these rapid diagnosis techniques contemplate the study of resistance mechanisms, and if they do, they limit themselves to just a few genes that are generally present or not. But resistances conferred by point mutations or expression regulations are not detected.

Therefore, these rapid diagnosis techniques are very useful, but only in specific situations.

Syndrome diagnostic systems

Recently, syndrome diagnostic systems have been emerging with which we can detect not one, not two, but a wide range of microorganisms. At all events, they are limited to the microorganisms we have previously defined, and few include resistance mechanisms or they include very few genes.

Growth detection systems

On the other hand, efforts are being made to find growth detection systems that will open the door to making studies of the sensitivity of bacteria to antimicrobial agents in just a few hours, or even minutes, instead of 18-24 hours. And it remains to be seen how massive sequencing, which also has limitations, will fit in with all of this.

Speeding up diagnosis through automation

Acelerar el diagnóstico - Speeding up diagnosis

In summary, speeding up results is an area of intense activity in the context of microbiology labs. The capacity to make etiological diagnoses and sensitivity studies that are quicker than the current conventional ones would have a significant clinical impact on the patient:

  • We would find the ideal treatment immediately.
  • By targeting the treatment, we would use fewer broad-spectrum antibiotics and exert less selective pressure on the ecosystem, limiting the appearance of resistant microorganisms.

The advantages that automation brings a microbiology lab are well known, given that they coincide on the whole with the needs and challenges faced by this type of laboratory.

  • Fewer errors / Improved traceability / Increased safety
  • Speed of results
  • Greater capacity for trials
  • Reduction of operating costs
  • Reassignment of professionals to tasks with greater added value

“This is why any new concept of automation must prioritise speeding up diagnosis while maintaining its quality.”

All ideas, concepts and new instruments that serve to increase the speed with which microbiologists respond to a request will be well received by the market.

Would you like to know more about how Sener Diagnostics can help speed up diagnosis through automation? Contact us >

About the author

+ posts