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Genomics and its impact on information technology in the clinical laboratory

As the genomics age gathers pace, implementation of advanced business management systems will ensure that laboratory professionals across the breadth of pathology remain firmly in the driving seat, as Gene Elliott explains.

The clinical laboratory market is in a period of rapid growth. Health expectations have risen globally in recent decades, with all member states of the World Health Organization committed to work toward the achievement of universal health coverage worldwide.

Discovery of the genetic code, with its unique signature for each living organism, has until recently had limited application in the routine clinical laboratory and little impact on the man in the street. However, this is set to change as advances in genomics technology make it more accessible and as public awareness of its benefits grows.

Looking at DNA is highly specialised but technological advances including automation, miniaturisation and the cost reductions that occur with scalability have moved the utility of genetic information out of research and into mainstream clinical laboratories. Affordable high-throughput genomic technologies enable rapid provision of results and expanded commercial platforms. This process is likely to accelerate, challenging the capacity of the clinical laboratories with new work processes and a requirement to store massive amounts of genomics data and maintain their integrity.