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IT Needs to Be a Medical Department’s Right Hand

Carlo Andrés Briones - Quest Diagnostics
Medical Director


Sofía Garduño By Sofía Garduño | Journalist & Industry Analyst - Thu, 05/11/2023 - 14:20

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Q: What role did Quest Diagnostics play during the pandemic and how does it plan to continue positioning itself in the post-pandemic era?

A: During the health crisis,  I led the laboratory at the temporary hospital in Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, which had a maximum capacity of 430  beds for COVID-19 patients. At the time, fast results were critical to make informed decisions because without accurate data, physicians could not discharge patients and free up beds for new patients. The hospital served approximately 7,500 patients and about 4,000 survived. The laboratory played a crucial role in the hospital’s efforts. We set up a lab from scratch, with no prior knowledge and no vaccines, facing the SARS-CoV-2 virus head-on.

The role of laboratories is to support patients in monitoring their health. The post-COVID-19 syndrome has had a significant impact on patients. Some have experienced more complications than others, such as renal and pulmonary failure, cardiac issues and many other consequences that are still being studied. Laboratories play a crucial role in helping patients and in studying diseases.

Moreover, the pandemic highlighted the need for better health practices, lifestyle changes and greater emphasis on prevention. In Mexico, medicine has traditionally been corrective but now there is a shift toward preventive medicine. Ultimately, we need to embrace a more prescriptive approach to healthcare. There is still much to learn about the long-term effects of COVID-19 and the healthcare industry must be prepared to adapt and provide support to those in need.

Q: What are the main health conditions that Quest Diagnostics has identified as the most prevalent in Mexico after the COVID-19 pandemic? 

A: The prevalence of diabetes in Mexico has become a major concern, affecting 16.9% of the population or one in every six individuals. Mexico ranks as the fifth-most obese country in the world and, while this is not a new issue, the prevalence of this disease is increasing at an alarming rate. This presents significant challenges for both public health and the economy, as patients with diabetes require costly medical care. Furthermore, diabetes is a chronic disease that increases the risk of other serious health issues, such as heart attacks and renal failure, leading to higher healthcare costs. 

There is an urgent need to increase the number of medical professionals in the country. Moreover, accurate diagnosis and comprehensive care are crucial. Laboratory testing, including genetic testing, can play an important role in achieving this. As a laboratory, we recognize the different approaches being taken and believe we can assist doctors in taking both preventive and prescriptive actions to improve the quality of life of diabetic patients. Our ultimate goal is to reduce the incidence of diabetes in Mexico and improve healthcare outcomes for all.

Q: What solutions is Quest Diagnostics offering to the Mexican market regarding mental health? 

A: We have a test available to identify Alzheimer's disease, which is much more common in the US than in Mexico. In 2015, Mexico had about 900,000 cases of Alzheimer's disease, with a prevalence rate of 7.6%. This number is expected to increase to 3.5 million in the coming years and it is essential to identify cases early to provide appropriate treatment. At Quest Diagnostics, we have made this test available to patients to help them receive timely and accurate diagnoses. This test was fully developed by Quest Diagnostics, as we also develop diagnostic tests.

The aging of Mexico’s population will lead to an increase in cases of Alzheimer's disease, which mainly affects older adults but there is also a rare form that affects younger individuals. We are committed to raising awareness about the availability of this test and helping physicians identify cases early to provide appropriate treatment and support for patients and their families.

Q: How much progress has Quest Diagnostics achieved in laboratory automation? 

A: Quest Diagnostics is a leader in automation in the US and we have fully automated laboratories that perform all processes through robotic systems. Automation enhances processes while minimizing human error. While the pandemic highlighted the importance of automation due to the sheer volume of tests, automation has been a part of laboratory operations for some time. At Quest Diagnostics, we understand the value of automation and we continue to invest in and improve our automated systems to ensure our patients receive the highest quality results in the shortest possible time.

Q: How are you increasing the penetration of your online services for scheduling appointments and consulting results?

A: The population group that uses laboratory services the most is seniors, who may find technology more challenging and rely on those close to them to use it. Digitization must be available to everyone but the population still wants human contact. Digital services are more prevalent in the US but in Mexico, these processes are not as widely adopted. Quest Diagnostics is working to make this process simpler and to break certain paradigms that are slowing down this transition.

Q: How do you ensure the information on the MyQuest App is safe?

A: We strictly adhere to confidentiality policies and comply with North American regulations for data management. Our servers are located overseas and have high-security protocols to reassure patients that their information is in safe hands. There have been many cyberattacks worldwide, which is why protecting our systems is a priority. Our results are encrypted and information is safely stored. Unlike other laboratories, Quest Diagnostics has certifications in cybersecurity. As cyberattacks on healthcare institutions continue to rise, cybersecurity remains a top priority for us.

Q: How does Quest Diagnostics envision the future of diagnostic testing and its role in the healthcare industry?

A: The laboratory is a fundamental pillar of healthcare systems. With the advent of digitalization, big data, AI and machine learning, laboratories have become a gold mine for data. About 70% of clinical decisions are based on laboratory results. Laboratories provide doctors with valuable information about their patients' health and, from an epidemiological perspective, we can also provide statistics on various health conditions. This information is important for both the population and healthcare providers. The laboratory plays a central role in data science in healthcare. There is a growing trend to provide value-added services through data analysis, which will enable us to offer personalized recommendations to patients based on their data.

Not fully embracing digitalization and the use of data can result in a huge missed opportunity in terms of patient and business benefits. We need to break the paradigm. Doctors must know how to program and have knowledge in data analysis to stay ahead. We must push for the entire industry to transition toward digitalization and have IT departments become the right-hand of medical departments.

Q: What are Quest Diagnostics' top priorities for 2023?

A: Our main goal is to increase our processing capabilities in our key units across the country, while improving logistics and response times for physicians, patients, hospitals and other clients. We are undergoing a reengineering process in Mexico to create a different and unique user experience. Despite the global economic scenario, we aim to keep our prices steady. We are expanding our services to include other complementary diagnostic areas, such as imaging, while increasing our presence across the country. Our focus remains on supporting patients. Our team, which includes three clinical pathologists and a geneticist, provides recommendations and assistance whenever there are doubts about diagnoses. We have the know-how to help patients and we are restructuring Quest Diagnostics to be more competitive.


Quest Diagnostics provides diagnostic information services, including laboratory testing services. The company is a leader in the diagnostics field and is dedicated to improving healthcare through accurate and timely diagnostics.

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