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    Mara Aspinall

    Mara G. Aspinall: Diagnostic evangelist educating the world on the power of diagnostics today

    Global Impact: Rebecca Rock, RN and SABM CFO talks with HPI about two roles across two countries

    From Lab Trend Visionary to Dark Group CEO: HPI connects with the Founder and Editor of the Dark Report, Robert Michel

    Two Imaging Leaders, Two Systems, One Outcome: Communication

    From Communication Strength to Just in Time Reopening at MGH A conversation with Dr. James Brink, Chief of Radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital

    From Time Magazine to PBM Influencer: Sherri Ozawa's Mission to Define the Value of Blood

    Buried Blessings: Pandemic perspective from Tom Strauss, CEO at Sisters of Charity Health System

    Katie Castree, Career Healthcare Process Improvement Connoisseur

    Solving Lab Challenges through Recruiting Innovation: HPI connects with Lighthouse Lab Services President, Jon Harol

    Providing Value-Based Care in a Pandemic through Telehealth and Data Resources: An HPI exclusive with Dr. Darrel Weaver

    From Supply Chain Crisis to Innovation in a Pandemic

    From Navy Medic to running a Clinical Laboratory . . . during a pandemic

    Planning for Blood Shortages in a Pandemic with Dr. Claudia Cohn

    Blood Banking is more complex today than ever before. Rob Van Tuyle, President of Vitalant's Blood Division, tells us why.

    Profoundly Impacting Healthcare with Breakthrough Anemia Management

    Supporting Imaging Precisely Where You Need It

    Working Together Makes End of Life Conversations Easier to Have

    The Future of Imaging: Assessing the early impacts of COVID-19 and the path to innovation through Artificial Intelligence (AI) A conversation with Dr. Geoff Rubin

    Pivoting in a Pandemic: How a U.S. 3D printing manufacturer is helping healthcare in its time of need

    Mara G. Aspinall: Diagnostic evangelist educating the world on the power of diagnostics today

    How The Joint Commission is addressing the COVID-19 Pandemic

    CHI Nebraska’s Laboratory Director Connie Wilkins, describes How To Manage a Clinical Laboratory During the pandemic

    Former Commercial Lab Leader Highlights the Hospital Lab as the Solution to Community Sustainability in a Healthcare Crisis

    Three Phases Essential to Crisis Preparedness in Patient Blood Management with Anne Burkey of St. Luke's Health in Boise, ID

    The Importance of Agility in Your Lab

    Dr. Paul Biddinger Shares Three Ways to Prepare for COVID-19

    Bringing Clinical Skills to Operational Leadership During a Time of Crisis; Dr. Blanton, Chief Medical Officer at Peterson Health

    7 Team Attributes to Teams that Work in Challenging Times & Through Rapid Innovation

    From Finding Problems to Saving Lives: The Evolution of Interventional Radiology

    Identifying the Potential with AI in Radiology with Dr. Chung

    Communication in the C-Suite with Cliff Robertson of Catholic Health Initiatives

    Reviewing Your Patient Financial Journey with Melody W. Mulaik, President of Revenue Cycle Coding Strategies

    Ask An Accumen Expert: Carolyn Burns, MD, a Patient Blood Management Advocate

    Linda DeVee, Leads Radiology Services at Edward-Elmhurst Health

    Theresa Mouton, Market Chief Financial Officer with Steward Health

    PELITAS President and CEO Steven Huddleston Wants Patients to Have a Great Experience – Both Clinically and Financially

    How Do You Deal with 2 Billion Forms a Year? Ask Randy Campbell

    Medical Director of Telehealth for UAB Knocks Barriers Down to Treat Patients on Their Terms

    C-Suite Spotlight: Wayne Bohenek Chief Ancillary Services Officer, Bon Secours Mercy Health

    A Leader in the Laboratory Service Line : Pierre Mouawad

    Healthcare Partner: Autumn Farmer, Chief Laboratory Officer, Bon Secours Mercy Health

    How Imbio is using AI to close the gap of missed diagnosis with Mike Hostetler

    Spit Matters with Bill Phillips from Spectrum Solutions

    How COVID-19 inspired TeraRecon to accelerate their imaging solutions to the point of care with Jeff Sorensen

    Mara G. Aspinall: Diagnostic evangelist educating the world on the power of diagnostics today


    Mara Aspinall is a legend in the diagnostics community. She has led, bought, and built companies that contribute to driving innovation in this space. She sits on the board of several organizations, contributing to the strategic plans of companies driving the development, delivery and data in the life sciences and healthcare arena. She co-founded a school at Arizona State University in biomedical diagnostics to educate and inspire future diagnostic leaders. She has mobilized a team of research experts to build the largest, global COVID-19 testing database. And she is just getting started.

    Diagnostics are the least appreciated and least understood part of the healthcare spectrum.

    I want to change that.

    Mara’s passion for diagnostics began 20 years ago when she read a study showing 20-30% of patients at autopsy were found to be treated for a disease that they did not have. Getting a correct diagnosis is imperative. We cannot cure every disease today, but we can do our very best with the treatments we have available. But if the diagnosis is not accurate or timely – it does not matter how good If our healthcare professionals are not aware, or do not know what disease to treat, it is not good enough. This data propelled my career in diagnostics.

    We sat down with Ms. Aspinall recently to discuss current, critical topics in the world of diagnostics and the spotlight COVID-19 has shone on the foundation of healthcare.

    Data and the Hospital Lab are Critical to the Future of Diagnostics

    Labs today are an information business with a wet lab on the side. The cost of the technology has gone down enough that virtually every lab can implement virtually every technology. It is the data that the lab brings to analyze its results on an individual patient basis and on a broader basis that is the change. Data also changes the way you hire people, and the economics of a lab. Mark my words, in five years we will be hiring more biostatisticians than lab technologists.

    Technology has also reduced in physical size, changing the need for space in the hospital lab. A hospital lab can now execute and analyze a larger number of tests with more technologies at lower cost than they could even five years ago. Clearly there are some tests and technology that will stay at the central lab, but I believe that you will see hospital labs remain critical centers for testing.

     How COVID Turned the Spotlight on Diagnostics

    At the beginning of this pandemic, diagnostics were under appreciated. The discussion was all about creating a vaccine and treatment with little attention paid to the diagnostics. What we have learned is that diagnosing patients as early as possible, even asymptomatic patients, is essential.  Testing enables us to create the right circle of care – test, trace, treat – it all starts with diagnosis.

    Mara identified several specific aspects of COVID-19 where it is critical to integrate diagnostics.

    1. Genetic Testing
      • Predisposition to contract disease and severity based on genetic makeup
    2. Active Disease Testing
      • In Symptomatic and asymptomatic people
    3. Antibody Testing
      • In recovered patients – to confirm that they have produced antibodies to SARS CoV2
      • In hospitalized patients to assess disease status – whether the patient’s immune system is creating antibodies to fight against the virus
      • In potentially exposed persons – to confirm whether or not a person has been infected and recovered
    4. Use of diagnostics to prevent future pandemic(s)
      • We need a resource, like the COVID-19 Test Availability and Result Tracking Network developed by Accumen, to identify signals of the SARS CoV2 mutating and of future pandemics. Nothing is more important to manage a healthcare crisis than accurate, timely and data intensive use of diagnostics.
    5. Understanding the economic impact
      • If people are scared, they do not go out or spend money. I want to talk about COVID-19 myths and facts to reduce the fear. Talking about what diagnostics can and cannot do will allow people to make educated decisions with their healthcare providers on which test is best. (Look for Mara’s new podcast series on COVID Myths and Facts at in July.)

    A Vaccine is NOT the Complete Answer

    Diagnostics are incredibly important in determining whether the virus has gained or lost virulence. Many viruses mutate over time, which is why you need a flu vaccine every season. We need to understand whether this virus is changing in meaningful ways. Diagnostics are the only way to look at how a virus is mutating or changing over time. We already know that many SARS CoV2 strains in the U.S. came from Europe and are different from the original strains in China. We need to ensure that diagnostic companies work together to aggregate data, through a broad integrated lab network, so we can draw the right conclusions and develop preparedness plans moving forward.

    Putting our Heads Together: Global COVID-19 Diagnostics Summit

    In partnership with Arizona State University, Mara brought key healthcare thought leaders from around the world together last month. We did not talk about treatment. We did not talk about vaccines. We talked about diagnostics and the top six challenges that exist in making tests broadly available today.

    Top six challenges:

    1. Defining appropriate use cases / protocols for each type of test
    2. Expanding testing for diagnosis (active infection)
    3. Expanding screening for antibodies (prior exposure)
    4. Engaging private industry in testing solution development
    5. Contact tracing while still protecting the rights of individuals
    6. Post-pandemic data analysis

    From significant collaborative discussions came two major action steps the group is now working on in coordination with the Rockefeller Foundation and World Economic Forum, engaging both profit and nonprofit organizations in solution development. (More on this in the upcoming podcasts).  One that Mara and her team of researchers have made strong inroads on already is, analytics.

    My team has put together a database of COVID-19 tests, capturing over 1,000 different tests being used globally to-date – about 60% identify the virus, 40% look for antibodies.

    Given this is a global pandemic, tests are being sourced from all over the world – about 60% from China or other Asian countries, 30% from the U.S. and 10% from various other countries. Whether companies looking for lab partners or labs looking to access additional tests, it is critical we understand which tests are available, if and how they are approved for clinical or research use.

    Diagnostics are the foundation from which all pillars in healthcare are built. Diagnostics tell us where needs for treatment exists. Diagnostics assist clinicians in determining accurate diagnoses. Diagnostics reveal the impact of new therapies and interventions. This circle of events continues as we find new diseases, new cures and therapies, and new patients that need treatment. And there is only one consistent element influencing the next step in the chain, every step of the way: diagnostics. Mara knows it and healthcare is learning. Let the spotlight shine bright.

    Mara Aspinall

    Mara Aspinall

    President and CEO of HealthCatalysts and Co-founder of Bluestone Venture Partners