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Hospital Pharmacy Europe     Newsletter          

Lab Tests Online: voicing together the value of diagnostics

Gloria Galán
Communications & Public Affairs Manager
European Diagnostic Manufacturers Association (EDMA)
Brussels, Belgium

Originally developed by the American Association of Clinical Chemistry (AACC) in 2001, Lab Tests Online is today the reference source of information on laboratory medicine, and all within one click’s reach.

The award-winning, noncommercial, peer-reviewed website provides comprehensive and easy-to-understand information on numerous lab tests, the related conditions and even the screening practices in use. Having broken the one million unique visitors per month in the USA, the site is also becoming very popular in other regions of the world, thanks to an international network of partners that gathers scientific professionals and test manufacturers.

In January 2004, the site was launched in the UK, through a licence provided by AACC to the ­Association of Clinical Biochemistry (ACB). With this support and a grant provided by the UK’s NHS, the site adapted the content to facilitate national data and reflect the main perspectives, practices and interests of the British public. Lab Tests Online(UK) now attracts more than 140,000 visitors per month.

In continental Europe, a coordinated effort of in-vitro diagnostic (IVD) manufacturers and scientific professionals has recently allowed the launch of new version of Lab Tests Online in five countries, and efforts continue to make the site a reality in more languages.

Expanding in Europe
The European Diagnostic Manufacturers Association (EDMA) signed a licence agreement with AACC in 2005, linked to a plan to make localisation easier and more efficient. EDMA and its affiliated national trade associations proposed to centralise the technology and general administration and management of Lab Tests Online sites, freeing the professional societies in each country to focus on translating, localising and developing editorial content.

The first site to see the light under this framework was the Spanish version, Lab Tests OnlineES, which was launched in March 2007, thanks to the coordinated efforts of the Sociedad Española de Química Clínica (SEQC) and the IVD trade association, Fenin. The German site, Lab Tests OnlineDE, followed very closely in April, with the participation of the Gesellschaft für Klinische Chemie und Laboratoriumsmedizin (DGKL) and the national affiliate of EDMA, VDGH.

Both sites share a particular aim of becoming a useful tool for primary care professionals. In this sense, the German site has already started to incorporate a full new section for each IVD test posted on the website, which provides information directly addressed to physicians on reference ranges, test-specific characteristics and the sector’s regular innovations.

This specific feature, together with all the constant additions and modifications to the sites, are regularly communicated to the network of partners. Each country then decides on the interest, priority and calendar to transfer all new information to its own site.

The Polish trade association (IPDDL) and the Polskie Towarzystwo Diagnostyki Laboratoryjnej (PTDL) joined the previous sites online on 18 May 2007. Lab Tests Online(PL) was officially launched at the “Laboratory Testing in Polish Health Care System under Reform” conference, held in Warsaw under the patronage of the Polish minister of health, Professor Zbigniew Religa. 

Two more continental European sites saw the light in the Autumn. Lab Tests Online(IT), developed in cooperation by EDMA’s Italian national member, Assobiomedica, and the Società Italiane di Biochimica Clinica e Biologia Molecolare Clinica (SIBioC). In Hungary, the ­Magyar Laboratóriumi Diagnosztikai Társaság (MLDT) and the IVD trade association, HIVDA, are ­working to produce Lab Tests Online(HU), with the support and participation of the Hungarian Ministry for Public Health.

All together, the continental European sites coordinated by EDMA received over 100,000 unique visitors in October 2007, which accounted for a total of 422,123 pages visited in the various languages already available online.

The way forward
The efforts, both at European and international level, will not stop there. AACC keeps promoting the site globally, and the Australian/New Zealand version was released last August. On the European side, EDMA and its partners are committed to bringing Lab Tests Online to all citizens across Europe and beyond. An agreement is close to being signed in Portugal with the national trade association, Apifarma, and the Sociedade Portuguesa de Química Clínica (SPQC), as well as in the Czech Republic, with the participation of Czedma and CSKB, Ceská spolecnost klinické biochemie. Discussions are also taking place ­regarding the development of a French version of Lab Tests Online. Interest has also been expressed by individual parties to produce the laboratory medicine site in Slovenian, Dutch and Greek.

EDMA is delighted to see the interest and passion that Lab Tests Online arouses across Europe. Feedback received from users, citizens, patients, healthcare professionals and policymakers is a ­testament to the usefulness and necessity of Lab Tests Online. The production and delivery of all the peer-reviewed scientific information posted on each site requires an enormous amount of work and dedication from all the partners involved in the project. The success of the sites and the interest shown in developing new versions are our rewards.

The EDMA  Lab Tests Online Team would like to take this opportunity to thank all the partners for their commitment and tireless contribution to Lab Tests Online. EDMA looks forward to further developing existing and new versions of the project, in cooperation with its dynamic network of partners, for the benefit of all citizens and the progress of laboratory medicine.