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The Future of Diagnostics

Among the clinician respondents to our survey, 63 per cent suggested that as the healthcare sector transitions from a focus on acute intervention to one centred around prevention and wellness, the future of diagnostics will look somewhat different in 3-5 years’ time, and two-thirds think it will look 'a great deal' or 'totally' different in 6-10 years’ time.

While an appreciation of the central role that diagnostics play in European healthcare has increased substantially in recent years, diagnostics companies still face many challenges in the design, development, funding, regulation and adoption of new products.

These challenges, together with growing demands on healthcare and a shortage of skilled staff and other resources, have led to growing patient backlogs and highlighted the need for radical transformation of diagnostic services.

More collaborative ways of working and rapid advances in science, technology and data analytics create opportunities to reimagine diagnostic pathways and deliver a more predictive, personalised, preventative and participatory (4P) future for patients, and a more cost-effective future for health systems.

Our pair of reports explores the future of diagnostics in Europe:

The main report

Technology driven personalised and preventative healthcare in Europe examines how innovations are improving diagnosis and creating opportunities to transform the role of diagnostics in care pathways. It identifies the barriers that the industry is facing today, and how these might be overcome to realise improved health outcomes tomorrow.

Our companion report

Reforming diagnostics: turning challenges into enablers, explores how the key challenges identified through our primary research (surveys, interviews, and literature reviews) can be turned into enablers to ensure a more productive and sustainable future for the industry.

Key findings

Disruptive technologies will transform diagnostics over the next five to ten years

Key findings

Among the clinician respondents to our survey, 63 per cent suggested that as the healthcare sector transitions from a focus on acute intervention to one centred around prevention and wellness, the future of diagnostics will look somewhat different in 3-5 years’ time, and two-thirds think it will look 'a great deal' or 'totally' different in 6-10 years’ time.

Our survey of clinicians found that the top three most important changes needed to improve the future of diagnostics are:

One.

Education and training of clinicians to enhance understanding of research, data science and diagnosis derived from genomic, digital and AI devices – 40% selecting as one of their top three (15% selecting as their number one change)

Two.

Collaborations between healthcare and MedTech organisations to design diagnostic devices to address areas of unmet need – 31% (10%)

Three.

Access to real time device user/patient data – 31% (10%)

The technologies expected to transform the future of diagnostic pathways

Digitalisation, robotisation and automation are giving rise to smart laboratories and smart imaging systems that can readily handle the increasing demands from healthcare providers and consumers at greater speed and lower cost. Our research has identified technologies that are already enhancing diagnosis, and those that are likely to transform diagnosis in the future.

Crucial trends that will shape the future of diagnostics, include widespread adoption of biosensors and a growth in the use of companion diagnostics; increased adoption of liquid biopsies; direct to consumer testing and automation; and the transformation of pathology and radiology using AI and advanced analytics.

Partnerships with consumer technology companies will help shape this future and help to transform clinical pathways. Collaborations will also be essential in designing new value-based payment models that reward all partners for health outcomes and better management of prevention, early detection, and wellness.

The technologies diagnostics companies expect to introduce over the next five years

Diagnostics companies can transform future clinical pathways

Given the acceleration of advances in science, technology, miniaturisation, and advanced analytics, Deloitte believe the future of diagnostics is integral to the future of health and this co-dependency will transform the future of diagnostics and in turn help realise the future of health. We have envisioned how three patient pathways might look in the future, and how these would contribute to a more predictive, preventative, personalised and participatory (4P) future of health.

Current pathway challenges

  • As with other screening services, colorectal cancer screening programmes across Europe have variable performance and participation rates and eligibility criteria for screening limits access to these tests.
  • Colonoscopy services are facing large and increasing patient backlogs with delays in cancer diagnosis resulting in more complex treatments, poorer patient outcomes and higher costs.

Current pathway challenges

  • Ambulance services response times are getting longer and improvements in service efficiency are needed. Manual data capture and poor data flow between ambulances and hospitals have a negative impact on efficiency.
  • To optimise patient outcomes, major trauma guidelines state that radiology reports of 3D imaging for chest trauma, haemorrhage and spinal injury should be available within one hour of the scan.

Current pathway challenges

  • Patients with heart failure are often diagnosed late. They have high rates of hospitalisation and readmission, due in part to a lack of use of reliable remote monitoring technology to provide early warnings.
  • Blood tests for heart failure, such as the brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) test, can take as little as 15 minutes. However, delays are incurred as the tests are carried out by GPs or at outpatient laboratories/clinics using venous blood samples as standard.

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