30th Malaysian Association of Clinical Biochemists Conference. The Future of Laboratory Medicine: The Impact of Exponential Technologies & Platform Economy
On 27th November 2020, our Innovation Strategist Azim Pawanchik was invited to speak at the 30th Malaysian Association of Clinical Biochemists Conference 2020. The theme of this year’s conference is “Innovative Solutions: The Way Forward in Laboratory Medicine”. Fittingly, Azim took the opportunity to share some insights on what to expect for the medical labs in the years to come.
Titled “The Future of Laboratory Medicine: The Impact of Exponential Technologies & Platform Economy”, the talk explores recent consumer and technology trends, and the opportunities they present to industry players.
The talk starts off by exploring exponential technologies, defined as disruptive technologies that potentially generate an exponential growth. This concept is best illustrated by Moore’s Law, which states that the price to performance ratio of computation improves at an exponential rate, doubling every 2 years. In fact, this law applies to any industry where technology is applied, including energy (solar cells), entertainment (online music streaming) and healthcare (online health services).
One of the most prevalent exponential technologies set to disrupt the scene is the rise of wearable tech, such as the Fitbit that tracks your vitals, and prompts you to seek medical advice as required. The rise of artificial intelligence (AI), coupled with the wealth of health data already available, will allow quicker and more accurate medical diagnosis. Also in the pipeline are 3D printed medical tools and robot assisted surgery.
Gaining access to these technologies means consumers are increasingly taking ownership and making decisions for their own health. With increased access to personal health data, they can now self-diagnose at the comfort of their own homes, bypassing the need for testing at medical labs altogether. Increased shift in focus to prevention and wellness also means that consumers will be acting to seek proactive solutions rather than seeking medical advice only when they fall ill.
Another rising trend is the platform economy. This is best illustrated by the ride hailing service Grab, which allows anyone with a car to work on-demand and earn a living. The service is enabled by technology. For example, it utilises complex algorithms to match drivers with users and calculate the fee for each ride.
How should medical labs act to adapt to these changes? A platform approach will need to be adopted, where the relationship among every player in the ecosystem, from policymakers to clinical biochemists to consumers, are managed to ensure mutual benefit. Transformation begins with the government and policymakers. As technology advances at a breakneck speed, new regulations will need to adopt an anticipatory model. They will be developed iteratively to gain a better understanding of technology’s impact on the economy and society. As data traffic increases among doctors, labs and patients, increased focus will be needed on data protection and safeguards of intellectual property.
Medical labs will leverage technologies to help doctors make faster and more data driven decisions. Automation can be adopted to speed up the testing process to help labs combat rising operating costs. Labs can even partner with hospitals and consumer technology in a digital ecosystem to offer holistic solutions to consumers. As the future of work changes, clinical biochemists can adopt the platform economy to bring flexibility to their work.
Company leaders will need to lead the charge in adopting innovation into their existing business models. Trust and direction must be given to employees to tap into the collective creativity of the organisation. Implementing data-driven processes and digital tools into current work will help break down bureaucracies and silos to further drive collaboration, while uncovering cognitive biases that impede innovation.
Alpha Catalyst would like to thank MACB for providing the opportunity to share our insights and ideas. To keep up to date on innovation, follow us on LinkedIn.
To learn more about the future of healthcare, refer to this report by Future Agenda.