Beyond these walls

The Lab Without Walls project is ready to move up a gear, now that we have successfully completed an overseas deployment in a needy part of our region.


The following posts will show you what progress we’ve made already. They may give you some idea how you could help.


Lab Without Walls must now look closely at where the priorities lie.

  • Where do we need to concentrate our efforts?
  • What diseases should we target?
  • Which patient groups are most urgent?
  • What outcomes will we use to measure success?
  • How best can we keep operating costs down? 

These questions will inform the foundational stages of our organisation.

A few things are certain:

  • Our principal aim will be to improve the level of support for front line clinicians making point-of-care decisions about potentially life-threatening infections. 
  • We will function as a not-for-profit agency, supporting other agencies whose primary role is the provision of a clinical service.
  • Much of what we do will be to act as pioneers, blazing a trail for others to follow.

This won’t always be easy, but people have said repeatedly that what we set out to do couldn’t be done. It might be true that it won’t be done if we stick with the time-honoured methods. But we have shown several times over that it can be done. New and emerging technology, a clear set of clinical lab objectives and good logistic support can deliver accurate data on specific infections in places where little or no clinical microbiology service previously existed. To coin a phrase: Yes, we can!

Clearly, the places where the greatest gains will be made are where the biggest burden of disease coincides with the most under-resourced health service. Sadly, not all of these places are in developing countries overseas. There is a pressing need to use the insights we’ve gained from overseas lab deployments to meet the diagnostic support needs of remote area medicine in rural and regional Australia. We previously demonstrated advanced health threat assessment capability on a mine site in tropical Australia. Is it too much of a stretch to imagine Lab Without Walls modules operating in health centres on industrial sites, remote clinics and regional hospital labs?

The centralised service operated from a small number of clinical labs in urban centres has its merits, but falls a long way short of the point-of-care testing front line clinical staff are looking for. Recent infectious disease tragedies in nearby regional centres are confronting for those who have the imagination to see how things could improve. Lab Without Walls wants to close the gap between where we are now to where we need to be in the early and accurate diagnosis of infection.

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