More than 70% of critical clinical decisions are based on a diagnostic test; however, biomedical scientists who provide this essential service remain invisible. Throughout Europe, biomedical scientists are a group of educated and professionally trained scientists who are dedicated to the provision of a quality laboratory service for the diagnosis and monitoring of disease.
The European Association for Professions in Biomedical Science (EPBS) represents and, works for, the 250,000 biomedical scientists working in clinical diagnostic laboratories throughout Europe.
As I look at the topics in this edition, it is clear that significant advances have been made in areas of digital pathology over the past years. This brings both opportunities and challenges particularly in the areas of cross-border delivery of services. The explosion of rapid detection systems for genotyping permitting personalised medicine has the potential to entirely change the face of healthcare delivery and improve patient outcomes. For this potential to be realised, it is important that in parallel with advances in technology, there is investment in the clinical laboratory services and the scientists working therein.
Biomedical scientists are uniquely placed to exploit these new technologies to enhance patient care and should be an integral part of the healthcare team.
Patient safety requires that the scientists undertaking complex molecular diagnostics have a thorough understanding of the methodology and the factors that influence the quality of result. The role of the biomedical scientist is not finished when the correct result is produced. The value-added contribution is made by ensuring that the results of analyses are interpreted in the correct context with the appropriate inferences being made for optimal patient care. These are the hidden diagnostic partners turning data into information.
It is EPBS’ policy that all biomedical scientists should have access to Masters programmes that meet their specific needs. We are working with four higher institutes of education in Coimbra, Dublin, Gothenburg and Vienna to provide a two-year full time Joint Masters in Biomedical Science (JMD Marble). This programme will produce quality graduates with the capacity for translational research and ability to lead the clinical laboratories of the future.
The EU Directive on Free Movement of Professionals provides opportunity for biomedical scientists to work and gain experience throughout Europe. This free movement would be enhanced if the education was standardised in all countries. EPBS has worked with national associations across Europe and great strides have been made to ensure a Bachelors level entry to the profession. This standardisation ensures a level playing field for graduates. However there are still some exceptions where, despite the will of the profession, this standard has yet to be achieved. EPBS supports its members in their endeavours to convince their national authorities and the EU commission of the requirement for, and benefits of, such standardisation.
The EPBS embraces the concept of lifelong learning. Our conference in 2016 focused on continuous professional development) and its contribution to patient safety. In 2017, our conference in October will be held in the Paracelsus Private Medical University in Salzburg and will explore the topic of biomedical scientists adding value to the healthcare system. We will examine the added value of education, regulation, and management systems. In addition, we will examine areas of disease surveillance and the added value to healthcare decision making and outcomes that can be achieved by harnessing the data in our information systems and using aggregated data to shape healthcare. Further information on this, and all EPBS activities, can be found on our webpage www.epbs.net.