Adherence to quality controls and standardisation are more important than gaining accreditations, said Dr. Nashat Nafouri, Chief Operating Officer of Futurelab Medical Laboratories, Saudi Arabia, during a panel discussion at the Medlab Middle East Congress 2023 in Dubai on February 9.
“Many laboratories in the region lay significant emphasis on having the right accreditations when the focus should first be on maintaining strict quality controls. Laboratories should forget about accreditation and go back to basics first. It (accreditation) will eventually come by, by the virtue of deploying quality tools and standards. Standardisation process by Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) is good because it prescribes the way and guides laboratories on how to go step by step. This is basically what we need at this stage.”
Abdulaziz M. Aljohani, Ministry of National Guard Health Affairs, Saudi Arabia, added: “We are still walking when it comes to quality. If we can really work on quality and build a system that will help us to continuously improve, and improve our service, that would be a great thing.”
Talking about the point-of-care testing industry, which is growing at above 10 per cent each year, Dr. Barb Jones, CEO, CLSI, US, pointed out the need to have standardisation. “We (CLSI) are working on a dedicated testing initiative to bring our current standards, as a whole, into point-of-care testing. The current complexity of our standards (for laboratories) is not necessarily needed in the point-of-care testing environment because the users are following manufacturer instructions. But all of the overarching principles are very, very much needed,” Dr. Jones said.
The global point-of-care diagnostics market in terms of revenue was estimated to be worth US$45.4 billion in 2022. The industry is poised to reach US$75.5 billion by 2027, according to Markets and Markets research report, and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.7 per cent from 2022 to 2027. Global standards for this industry would ensure a better quality of services.
On the lessons learned from the pandemic and what is in it for the laboratories, Dr. Nafouri said, “In my opinion, in order to be prepared, we should adopt a new approach to risk management. Since 1998, we were expecting the influenza virus to re-emerge; like the Hispanic one re-emerged at the beginning of the last century. But we could not predict its timing. So what we can prepare for, at best, is the worst-case scenario.”
He further added: “Agility is very important in healthcare, for only if the healthcare companies are agile will they be able to predict and prepare fast. Now, with artificial intelligence and the tools we have, we can predict risks better.”