Navigating between technology and professionalism: key points for the future of clinical laboratories

Mario Plebani


In the last few decades, monumental changes have been made to the landscape of clinical laboratories. Laboratory medicine has always been influenced by a broad range of trends affecting technological development, the healthcare system organization, medical practice and patient empowerment. In the coming decade, disruptions will intersect, interact, and overlap with these trends, and with the existing set of laboratory practices; combinatorial innovation will make it of critical importance for leaders to prepare for a future with the understanding of possible collisions between linear trends and nonlinear external forces. The aim of the present paper is to discuss the future of clinical laboratories according to two different approaches: technological and professional. In particular, a description is given of a revised version of a ‘ten points’ manifesto for the future of laboratory professionals, with a focus on the main drivers and efforts made to demonstrate the added value and true role of laboratory medicine in modern health care systems. The main goal of this manifesto is to emphasize the centrality of the contribution of clinical laboratories and their professionals to improved health care.