A recording of a plenary presentation by professor Mauro Panteghini, recorded at 4th Joint EFLM-UEMS Congress: Warsaw, Poland, 21–24 September, 2016

Harmonization in laboratory testing is more than merely analytical harmonization. Although the focus was mainly on the standardization and harmonization of measurement procedures and their results, the scope of harmonization goes beyond method and analytical results. It includes all aspects of the total examination process from the “pre-pre-analytical” phase through analysis to the “post-post-analytical” phase. Rapidly available and precise results can indeed be of very limited value if they cannot be compared with each other, are produced on a wrong material or within an inappropriate diagnostic workflow. In particular, as evidence collected in last decades demonstrates that pre-pre- and post-post-analytical steps are more vulnerable to errors, harmonization initiatives should be performed to improve procedures and processes at the laboratory–clinical interface. Managing upstream demand, down-stream interpretation of laboratory results, and subsequent appropriate action through close relationships between laboratorians and clinicians remains a crucial issue of the laboratory testing process. Therefore, initiatives to improve test demand management from one hand and to harmonize procedures to improve physicians’ acknowledgment of laboratory data and their interpretation from the other hand are needed in order to assure quality and safety in the total examination process. A harmonized context will increase the value of laboratory results facilitating their interpretation and thus improving the patient’s outcome.