Theoretical and practical considerations for teaching diagnostic electronic-nose technologies to clinical laboratory technicians
The rapid development of new electronic technologies and instruments, utilized to perform many current clinical operations in the biomedical field, is changing the way medical health care is delivered to patients. The majority of test results from laboratory analyses, performed with these analytical instruments often prior to clinical examinations, are frequently used for management decisions pertaining to patient care rather than as aids to diagnosis. The introduction of novel, improved electronic methods and portable tools for diagnosing diseases and for administering treatments has required continuous retraining of laboratory technicians for routine clinical operations and point-of-care testing. Continuous education and competency of clinical laboratory technicians in the proper use of these new healthcare tools, such as electronic-nose (e-nose) devices, is required to obtain the highest quality information possible for management decisions and to develop efficient treatments for patients. E-nose devices often provide more accurate and timely information than conventional chemical methods. Electronic-nose devices of various types and operational technologies are beginning to be used at increasing frequency in hospitals and clinical settings because of the capability of these instruments to provide rapid, accurate information of a patient's physiological state and health in real-time, eliminating the need for time-consuming chemical tests. E-nose devices are ideal instruments for the detection and diagnosis of disease and for the rapid recognition (sensing) of chemical-bioindicator compounds as indicators of disease within human fluid and tissue samples sent to diagnostic clinical laboratories for analysis. The proper training of technicians in the effective use of e-nose instruments for healthcare applications requires thorough understanding of the theoretical workings of e-nose devices and practical knowledge of operational methodologies that must be followed in order to effectively use e-nose devices to obtain the essential patient information required by medical doctors to make accurate diagnoses and administer rapid effective treatments. This paper provides a review of the most important theoretical and practical considerations to include in the development of training courses to teach clinical laboratory technicians how to properly operate e-nose devices for effective clinical analyses.