Using Flowcharts to Convey Methods and Results of Lab Tests

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The canvas of creation is an immense multi-dimensional project that, to all appearances, remains work in progress. A survey of the physical world reveals fascinating aspects of natural evolution that find expression in terrestrial life forms, the seas and the oceans, the varied topography of the continental plates, the symmetry of natural processes, etc. A glance at the skies above reveals the wide firmament of stars, planets, galaxies, etc. Closer home, we find humankind has invested significant efforts to create, analyse, and examine minute processes in the controlled environments of the modern scientific laboratory. The men and women of science that work in clinical laboratories test various bodily fluids, biological extracts, waste products from human and animal bodies, examine DNA as part of criminal investigations, fabricate solutions, etc. The outcomes of such exertions represent the results of lab tests that find expression in the form of modern flowchart diagrams.

Trained technicians can deploy flowchart diagrams to depict the flow of clinical procedures. These inter-linked illustrations visually outline the systematic progression of tests that seek to examine a variety of outcomes. For instance, a biological laboratory may initiate a blood test procedure to examine the many constituents of mammalian blood. Each stage in a flowchart diagram can serve as a signpost of a certain stage of the blood test. The results of lab tests that emanate from this exercise can include multiple points of data and information that (maybe) appended to the visual flowchart. The final outcome, as depicted in the flowchart diagram, creates a detailed picture of the state of health of the host organism. Doctors and medical professionals can survey said diagram and its contents to pronounce a verdict on the health of the host individual. This pictorial manifestation of the results of lab tests also serves as a medical document that can be archived as part the health history of an individual.

The results of lab tests in the present context must rely on the use of correct symbols. This involves precision in terms of depicting the correct stages with a view to create an exact visual representation. This also implies a confluence between design orthodoxies that inform modern flowchart diagrams and the protocols that govern the operation of a modern laboratory test. A technician may (for instance) elect to highlight certain aspects in the results of lab tests. This necessitates actions that spotlight the preceding decisions that generate said aspects. Hence, the technician must input the diamond symbol prominently inside said flowchart in a bid to aid the comprehension of readers and reviewers. A series of diamonds, when placed in sequence inside the flowchart, indicates the maturity of multiple sub-processes and points to immediate outcomes. This visual aid empowers the expert eye to decipher the technical outlines of a modern lab test. Constructive suggestions may follow in certain scenarios.

The methodology of modern laboratory testing is an outcome of advances registered by inter-decadal inquiries into science and technology. The flowchart diagram is admirably equipped to depict the scope and operation of such methodologies. We may examine the results of lab tests by dividing the preceding processes into pre-analytical stages, analytical stages, and post-analytical stages. The first set of stages involves a doctor’s recommendations for lab tests and the collection of specimens from a patient or volunteer. The analytical stages involve the actual performance of the tests and the reported results (as presented by laboratory technicians). The post-analytical processes mainly center on a medical review of the results of lab tests by qualified professionals and other actors. The flowchart that outlines these processes represents a clear, image-based document that effectively conveys the moving parts (and their graded interactions) of a laboratory testing regimen. This diagram also serves as a roadmap for medical researchers that may seek to refine and upgrade existing versions of clinical testing systems. In addition, experts in the field of modern medicine may examine these flowcharts and spotlight / promote the best practices contained therein for the benefit of humankind.

The results of lab tests appear in the form of a report that lists various outcomes of clinical testing procedures. Employees of a pathological testing laboratory may design flowchart diagrams that depict separate values inside a succession of discrete stages. Each value must denote a certain aspect of the health of a patient or volunteer. In addition, technicians may design the flowchart to include color codes that refer to various categories of health risks. This addition of value allows the flowchart to gain heft in terms of its documentary value, while alerting the patient or volunteer to precautions that may be encoded in a separate diagram. A collection of such flowcharts can encapsulate the health history of an individual patient. The utility of such diagrams is manifest in the fact that results of lab tests can point the way to better health for a majority of surveyed patients.

One of the paradigms of modern medical research posits that medical laboratories must test large pools of volunteers. The results of lab tests in such cases may be depicted through parallel sequences of stages arranged vertically. The first sequence of this vertical flowchart may depict a variety of information such as double-positive results, rapid diagnostic testing sub-processes, and information pertaining to additional samples being tested. The second sequence may outline negative results from the testing process, samples lost in transit, and instances that generated incoherent data or sub-par clinical information. This representation of information inside a modern flowchart diagram indicates that a wide range of clinical data can be encoded in a pictorial format. The results of lab tests thus depicted serve to further the cause of clinical research in diverse ways and add significant heft to the annals of modern medical research.

Laboratory operators can deploy flowchart diagrams to help patients de-escalate a medical condition. In such a situation, these diagrams may contain suggestions that are premised on the results of lab tests. Pursuant to this, clinical operatives may prescribe specific measures and ways and means that may help medical professionals (such as doctors) to offer suggestions that effect a complete recovery. In this instance, the flowchart diagram serves as a prescriptive tool that elevates the value of the modern medical intervention. In addition, such flowchart diagrams can be instructive when shared with early-stage patients – subject to the conditions imposed by qualified medical supervision.

The foregoing paragraphs have examined some of the aspects of using flowchart diagrams to illuminate the methods (and results) that – respectively – attend and stem from modern laboratory tests. The designers of such analytical illustrations must work to expand the scope of using flowcharts inside modern laboratories. They must labor to bring medical science – and its proponents – closer to the considerable powers enshrined in the modern flowchart. On their part, professionals that work in the laboratory may work to provide inputs that can assist designers to usher in the next generation of digital illustrations. A deeper integration between art and science should mate the use of these diagrams with data and information flowing from a live medical situation. This can lead to new advances in interventional medicine, and may trigger an evolution toward new practices inside the modern laboratory.

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