Since medical professionals didn't have an adequate supply of tests to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus from the onset of the pandemic, hospitals, health departments, urgent care centers and private practices have now ramped up their testing capabilities and access to multiple testing platforms.
During the early days of the pandemic, private practices used polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, though they typically sent them to offsite labs for processing, meaning patients had to wait two to three days to get their results. Today, we're seeing more practices realize the value that immediate, in-office PCR testing can provide.
The benefits of PCR technology include:
- Serving more patients in your local community
- Providing quick, accurate results Improving the patient care experience
- Enhancing the practice's brand
In this webinar addressing the adoption of PCR and its positive impact on a medical professional's practice, we explore some compelling reasons you should consider PCR testing for your practice.
Why go PCR?
Private practices have long used PCR testing for other diagnoses. And although the PCR technique first came about in 1985, PCR tests were routinely sent to an offsite lab for processing.1
"PCR is not a new thing," says Chrysa Charno, CEO and clinical director of AcuteKids Pediatric Urgent Care in Rochester, New York. "I had never thought about bringing PCR into my office because I didn't really feel that there was a need before this time period."
Though she also looked at antigen and antibody tests, she chose PCR because this test has a 97.2% sensitivity rate for detecting the SARS-CoV-2 virus.2
"I needed the most accurate testing with the fastest results, and I wanted to do it in-house," she says. "I wanted to have full control to take care of our patients right here in the office."
Expand your patient base
Many private practices focus on a specific patient base, such as children or older adults. However, offering on-site PCR testing can expand a practice's patient base because it benefits all patients.
For example, when Charno opened AcuteKids Pediatric Urgent Care in August 2019, her target patients were kids. However, she quickly realized that on-site PCR testing would also benefit the entire family.
"We could take care of Mom, Dad, Uncle, Grandma, Grandpa and all the kids at once," Charno says. "In Rochester, there wasn't much opportunity to serve the family as a whole."
Provide quick results
Having on-site PCR testing means practices can deliver results to patients in a few hours or less, instead of making them wait two days or more. "What's so critical about our experience here is that we can do same-day diagnosis and same-day care for all of our patients," Charno says.
"That's just an incredible thing, to bring something so highly technological into our office in an outpatient setting and be able to take care of our patients this way."
With PCR testing, patients can now have same-day answers and respond accordingly, whether it's a child going back to school or a parent returning to work, and not unknowingly infecting others when previously having to wait two to three days to receive test results. As the waiting period can prove costly and inconvenient for adults who need to work or arrange for childcare, patients aren't left in limbo for a few days, not knowing how to proceed.
In addition to SARS-CoV-2 tests, PCR tests are also available for flu, strep and RSV respiratory illnesses, also helping to diagnose such conditions and infectious diseases such as sexually transmitted infections (STI), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and certain cancers where it's extremely critical to have fast turnaround results for a confirmed diagnosis. This helps get treatment started faster and helps reduce the possibility of spreading the infection to others.
Improve the patient care experience
Using PCR testing in your practice provides a key opportunity to showcase your team's commitment to your patients. For example, at AcuteKids, every patient receives a phone call with PCR test results, not an email or text. This is an important part of the process because it gives the clinical team an opportunity to explain the results and what comes next, and then patients can ask questions.
"Bringing this technology into a clinical practice comes full circle in bringing the care to the patient experience," Charno says. "Now they've established that relationship with you. Think about the patient experience, how happy you're making these parents being able to get their kids back to school."
Enhance your practice's brand
Effectively serving patients in their moment of need goes a long way in bringing that patient back again and again to your practice. At AcuteKids, Charno says many of the patients who initially came to her practice for PCR testing are now returning for other urgent care needs, such as needing stitches, because of the great experience they had during testing.
"It's incredible exposure to our practice, our business model and our team that we don't even have to pay for," Charno says. "We're here for the community and the families. This is one piece of the puzzle, but this has totally changed my practice. I don't know what we'd be like without this."
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Webinar originally aired on October 29, 2021
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