What’s the buzz in rapid testing?

May 24, 2018

A broad test menu and connectivity

There is an increasing need for clinicians to have access to the right test, in the right setting, at the right time. Above all, for rapid testing to have the most effective clinical impact on patient care, the results from point-of-care testing devices need to be accurate. This means that the test results are consistent with lab testing values to deliver concordant results that clinicians can trust. Reliability enables clinicians to rule out potential diagnoses more quickly. Rapid, informed diagnoses and treatment decisions at the patient-side ultimately aid in improving clinical outcomes.

A broad menu benefits clinical service lines that routinely perform blood analysis: for example, critical care units, emergency departments, radiology, and outpatient centers. The key advantage of a broad and simple test menu is that regardless of what tests are needed, the same analyzer and reagent will be used the same way, enabling a broad range of users to test with confidence. With a full menu that encompasses pH, partial pressure of oxygen, partial pressure of carbon dioxide, sodium, potassium, ionized calcium, hematocrit, glucose, lactate, creatinine, chloride, and BUN and TCO2, clinicians can get a comprehensive view of patients’ results quickly.

To remain relevant, rapid tests need to have connectivity capabilities so that the results and critical values can impact care in a timely manner. For this reason, a key trend with rapid testing is connectivity. An “always open” middleware philosophy will become increasingly pivotal to deliver critical results in a timely manner.

—Jason Weshler
Director of Marketing and Business for End-to-End Solutions Point-of-Care Diagnostics, Siemens Healthineers

Breakthroughs needed in rapid POC testing

Rapid testing, particularly for point-of-care applications, has seen tremendous improvements in recent years. Still, there is a pressing need to do even better.

Consider critical care teams operating in remote locations, nursing homes, and other areas where hospital access is non-trivial. Today, “rapid testing” means emergency teams get patients to medical facilities, where physicians send samples to on-site clinical labs, which return results in a few hours. This process takes hours from the initial mayday to getting information that could shed light on patient treatment. What would make a real difference is tests that could be performed in the field, yielding results fast enough to adjust intervention and help determine whether a trip to the hospital is necessary.

Sepsis is a good example of how such a breakthrough would help. While most sepsis diagnostics take hours to identify the causal pathogen, there is an acute need for a rapid triage test that provides quantification of inflammation levels related to a sepsis diagnosis. This would tell first responders and Emergency Department staff whether to begin sepsis treatment protocols, a decision that must be made quickly to give the patient the best chance of survival. A portable, 15-minute sepsis test would do wonders for patient outcomes.

That’s just one example to show that incremental improvements in rapid testing are not enough. Healthcare teams and lab professionals need new testing options that radically alter what’s possible in order to deliver significantly improved patient care.

 —David Ludvigson
President and CEO