When is it appropriate to attach the moniker “stone age” to a previous era of science and medicine? You could easily argue that pathology was in just such a stone age before biofluid- and tissue-based diagnostics came of age. So when will our present-day capabilities be similarly relegated?
The last century produced the first wave of modern diagnostics based on collected biosamples that had to be sent to a laboratory for analysis. More recently, we have seen a second technological wave of point of care diagnostics that put the lab right in the hands of the doctor. This second wave brings added convenience and can even allow the doctor to validate a diagnosis while in the presence of the patient. Despite these advances, the remaining gaps in patient care are so significant that – one day not too far in the future – we may agree that pathologists in 2018 were in the “stone age” of medical diagnostics. To visualize the gaps, it may help to start thinking about what might soon be possible…
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