The Changing Diagnostics Landscape
With almost twenty years in the medical diagnostics industry, undoubtedly, one of the biggest impacts we’ve experienced has been COVID-19. From upending business models and shutting down the globe to forcing the world to rethink how we conduct business and even what products we make and how, the pandemic is one of those seismic events that we will look back on and see how it shaped the world we are now living in.
This era has altered the medical landscape in ways we are only beginning to understand and see. It changed the world, both in how we live and how we work and adapt to challenges on a global scale. As our roots are in HIV testing, we were in the unique position of experiencing the direct impacts on healthcare services such as STI testing. It was a challenge not only for us at bioLytical, but the entire industry as healthcare spending shifted to battling the growing burden of this new virus, leaving many testing programs fighting for reduced non-COVID-19 resources.
Unfortunately, this has led to increased STI rates worldwide. We know that early and frequent testing plays a significant role in reducing onward transmission and connections to treatment. Innovation in testing technology and how we deploy it is critical to solving some of the world’s most severe health challenges.
However, while much of the attention of this experience has been negative, there are positive lessons to learn. The mass adoption of rapid testing at home has boosted awareness of the benefits of self-testing, pushing the diagnostics industry ahead by years. It will help lead to the increased personalization of healthcare, where people have more control over managing their health.
With Canada’s only HIV test available for self-testing, we had begun to move the needle on creating the diagnostic infrastructure and resources needed to meet people where they need to be tested, but building awareness takes time. Until the pandemic, the ability to test at home had been on the fringes of the industry, with most people unaware that the option even existed. Educating people on the safety, accuracy, and ease of self-testing was challenging. People were used to going to a medical clinic or testing centre to learn their status, uncertain of the quality or accuracy of self-tests.
Testing is the only way to know your status. We took our proven experience and passion for helping people know their status and quickly pivoted to develop and produce an accurate and trusted COVID-19 test capable of identifying infection on day one of testing and getting it out to Canadians and across the globe.
As founder and CEO of bioLytical Laboratories, a privately held, global medical diagnostics company, Robert manages one of B.C.’s fastest-growing organizations. Robert has overseen the successful launch of the INSTI® HIV-1/2 Antibody Test, the world’s fastest HIV test, including as Canada’s only approved test for use at home, and has recently introduced the iStatis COVID-19 Antigen Test in Canada and globally.