ASLM Member Viewpoint: Getting the Most from Laboratory Medicine

ASLM Member Viewpoint

Getting the Most from Laboratory Medicine: The Case for Improved Service Delivery

Aliyu Samuel Abdulmumuni

The delivery of laboratory services is entering a new phase of development where laboratory medicine is no longer merely a support service, but is considered an integral part of the patient’s journey. For laboratory professionals, a potent mix is brewing, perhaps even a perfect storm, as the profession changes under the interlinking influences of political pressure, laboratory service reconfiguration, strategic workforce planning and increasing expectation for the delivery of service.

The last few years have set the new modern reality that laboratory medicine is expected to streamline and improve on quality and productivity while providing us with a unique opportunity to build on and accelerate the work institutions such as the African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM). ASLM supports national laboratory services to embrace innovation, transform working practices and reduce waste and duplication.

The organisations involved in laboratory medicine, from professional bodies to governments, will have a challenge to provide strong far-sighted leadership, make difficult decisions and strike a delicate balance between competing and conflicting demands for trickier times to come. However, it is clear that in order to be part of the new modes of healthcare, laboratory professionals must work more closely with the clinician in developing and planning the patient journey.

The time has now arrived for laboratory medicine to integrate more with patient care through improved laboratory workforce, capacity building and collaborative research. Laboratory professionals must learn to become involved in a number of projects and initiatives such as laboratory weeks and tours, workforce groups and healthcare science workshops, all of which are key to helping governments and hospital administrators understand the our role in healthcare; importantly, this ensures that laboratory medicine is not an easy target for budget cuts and that sustainable workforce planning will bring long-term benefit.

A profession is as good as its practitioners, and we are fortunate to have a good number of African scientists who are active and undertaking so many roles within the continent of Africa and beyond. Whatever successes can be achieved by working together as a continent must be complimented by professional networking at local, national and regional levels. By sharing knowledge we will be able to learn what works from others’ practice and experience. Through partnerships, laboratory services can develop supportive networks that enable good practices to be shared and solutions to be found in order to meet national needs and challenges. However, the key message is that as a profession, we must believe in and adhere to principles as well as learn to improve our individual and collective practices. Professional standards must be maintained, patient safety must not be compromised and fully accessible professional and career development must be made available for all professionals working in pathology laboratories – no matter at what level.

With these measures put in place, the future of African laboratory medicine looks bright and exciting.

ASLM Member Feature Writer: Aliyu Samuel Abdulmumuni

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Originally published in the February 2014 issue of Lab Culture newsletter.