What scares, excites the president of Mayo Clinic Labs about diagnostics' future

Diagnostics has always been an important part of healthcare, but recent times have shined a brighter spotlight on it. William Morice II, MD, PhD, president of Mayo Clinic Laboratories, told Becker's there are exciting developments on the horizon as well as areas for concern.

"One thing that makes me excited is that we're working at both ends of the spectrum with diagnostics," he said May 4. "There are a lot of technologies coming out that will replace traditional diagnostics. Wearables, transdermal measuring of things — that's going to create a whole new opportunity for us to meaningfully intervene."

Data is crucial in healthcare, and with more data and greater access to it, patient care could be on the verge of a shakeup.

"With more access to health information, the way we take care of patients will become less episodic and more longitudinal," Dr. Morice said. "As we continue to get technologies that gather detailed information for personalized medicine, what's going to happen with cancer, for example?"

Treatment of complex conditions such as breast cancer could be revolutionized when patient-specific variations can be accounted for, he said. That means better, more accurate prognoses for patients.

But the influx of new health information across a variety of platforms could also pose challenges. To paraphrase Swiss physician Paracelsus, whether something is poison merely depends on the dosage.

"One thing that scares me is that we can create so much information that it overwhelms any individual to actually use it," Dr. Morice said. "Are we building the tools to make sense of this?"

Diagnostic labs themselves are a major source of health information. But too often, labs simply provide data and leave it to patients and providers to interpret it, Dr. Morice said.

"Labs need to be more active on both sides of that," he said.


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