The American Clinical Laboratory Association (ACLA) is the national trade association representing leading laboratories that deliver essential diagnostic health information to patients and providers by advocating for policies that expand access to the highest quality clinical laboratory services, improve patient outcomes, and advance the next generation of personalized care.
Clinical laboratories are at the forefront of the most pivotal moments in health care. When a patient or provider receives the results from a clinical lab test, that critical diagnosis provides a path forward for life-changing – and life-saving – treatment and care.
Our advancement in precision medicine represents a new frontier in care delivery. Only a few years ago, genomic testing was limited to patients with certain solid tumors. Today, targeted tumor-sequencing tests can be used for any tumor – regardless of where in the body the cancer started. As a result, genomic testing guides better prevention or treatment options for patients when they first need it, avoiding trial and error to identify the best course of action.
Clinical laboratories also create highly specialized and novel laboratory-developed tests (LDTs) for emerging or rare diseases, which allow for precise diagnoses that inform highly personalized care plans tailored to individual patients.
Today, six in ten adults in the U.S. living with a chronic disease often require routine monitoring to reduce complications and manage their conditions. Clinical laboratory tests are an essential tool providers and clinicians use to diagnose and manage a number of acute, chronic and infectious health conditions, including pneumonia, diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, anemia, infections and opioid dependency.
Regular lab monitoring is a vital lifeline for cancer patients. Research shows that cancer screening significantly reduces cancer deaths as doctors and specialists are able to identify those at high-risk or in early stages of the disease and start treatment before cancers progress.
By orienting the health system towards early disease prevention and intervention, clinical laboratories drive improved patient outcomes and quality of life as well as savings for consumers and public and private payers. For many diseases, a diagnostic laboratory test may ultimately save the health care system thousands of dollars by deterring costly procedures and possible complications.
For example, by testing for cardiac enzyme markers to diagnose a heart attack, physicians can determine whether a patient’s chest pains signal a heart attack or something less serious. Some $12 billion is spent annually on inappropriately hospitalizing patients who are not actually experiencing heart attacks.