Uniting the lab and radiology

Healthcare is in a dynamic state of change — and so is the healthcare industry, in which there is an increasing trend towards integrating scientific disciplines.

Jackie McDowell
Jackie McDowell

The Siemens Healthcare acquisition of DPC, Bayer Diagnostics and Dade Behring is a good example of this.
Meike Lerner (EH) asked Jackie McDowell (J McD), Head of Integrated Diagnostics and Market Development at Siemens, why the company chose this route, and how following such practice could also benefit hospitals.

J McD: With the acquisition of DPC, Bayer Diagnostics and Dade Behring, Siemens can now offer a more comprehensive portfolio of technology that enables us to look at a disease along the continuum of care and engage from a screening and predictive perspective. Having integrated in vivo and in vitro technologies, we can provide customers with an integrated delivery model, which allows them to do business with one company, rather than multiple companies. This concept translates into greater efficiency for our customers. With Siemens’ capability for full integration, we can look beyond disciplines and focus on disease states and organisational challenges. We can view the entire picture and as a result develop tools and products that will help our laboratory customers to work along the continuum within their own hospitals.

Whether it is research and development, the development of technology or biomarkers strategies, we believe we can help customers to expand diagnostics beyond the laboratory and incorporate more than one discipline. We can also be proactive in terms of helping the laboratory, imaging departments and hospital management to realise improvement potential in the workflow of diagnostic medicine. There is a lot of value and power in looking at it this way – many of today’s thought leaders believe it will become increasingly valuable for laboratories to come out of their silos and collaborate closely with imaging to provide outstanding patient care.

Additionally, one of our goals is to support laboratory professionals in creating more awareness and visibility for themselves within the healthcare environment through the positioning of integrated diagnostics. Of course that requires a mutual understanding between laboratories and their imaging counterpart – the radiologists. Today there is often a sense of the unknown across the two departments. And our opportunity as a company is to help our customers take down those walls through education and knowledge and broadcast the message that integrated diagnostic data, both imaging and laboratory, is the most powerful information in the hospital.
This sounds like hard work for laboratories and radiology departments, which may see one another as a kind of competitor.

J McD: Well, on the one hand, while pathologists are different from radiologists, we are seeing impressive examples, around the world, where both work together to provide integrated diagnostics that create advances in healthcare never seen before. I think, in many ways, radiology is not so different from the lab. The biggest difference is that in radiology you move the patient, whereas in the lab you move a specimen from the patient.

To harness the potential of integrated diagnostics, organisations will have to empower and encourage people to work with other disciplines. When leadership encourages people to look at the disease state, people recognise that there are many synergies. It’s not about relinquishing control of a department; it’s about exponentially increasing the power of diagnostics – laboratory and imaging combined. 

At a recent symposium that focused on integrated diagnostics, a radiologist noted that he had learned more about pathology in the last two days than on his own in the last five years. Today, he believes that the powerful combination of pathology and radiology places both disciplines in a stronger position with hospital administration, by demonstrating the value of diagnostic medicine as a whole.

At Siemens we have torn down our silos by integrating in vivo and in vitro diagnostics and focusing on the care continuum and patient pathways, and we believe we can provide value by travelling a parallel path with our customers because, in many ways, we are experiencing exactly the same things. When we work with our lab and imaging partners, we find both are very excited about what Siemens is doing. It’s an opportunity for us to work together, not just from a technology perspective, but from an overall workflow and solutions perspective. This is our vision of how quality in healthcare can be improved. We are convinced that laboratories and radiology departments will come together to build diagnostic services that take medicine to a whole new level. We’re excited to be part of it.

01.03.2008

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