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Can molecular lab technology transform your clinic's profitability and patient care?

It's a situation that most practitioners are all too familiar with: A patient comes in complaining of a stubborn cough and a stuffy nose. It could be viral, in which case the best care is TLC, or it could be bacterial, which would require an antibiotic for effective treatment. If you can't test with molecular lab technology at the point of care, you run the risk of not being able to provide the best diagnosis and care in a timely manner.

That's why more providers are exploring the benefits of molecular testing, which allows you to offer efficient, accurate and on-demand testing that supports patient outcomes and enhances your clinical practice. Here's what practitioners should consider. 

What is molecular testing?

Molecular testing is a reliable diagnostic technology that amplifies DNA or RNA so you can detect the presence of and identify the bacteria, virus and other pathogens in a patient's sample. Practitioners can use it to offer testing for COVID-19, flu A/B, Strep A, Group B Strep, RSV, Pertussis, HSV 1-2, MRSA and many other conditions, including sexually transmitted infections and other infectious diseases.

Molecular testing is appropriate for a variety of facilities, such as: 

  • Urgent care centers and community health centers
  • Pediatrics, family practice and multi-specialty groups
  • Women's health centers, men's health centers and student health clinics

While other common tests, like culture or rapid tests, may offer accuracy or speed, only molecular diagnostic testing offers both.

How molecular testing can transform your practice

Molecular testing can enhance your practice in a number of important ways. Let's explore the top three.

1 | Molecular testing supports patient care

With on-site molecular diagnostic testing, you're creating a higher level of care and a better patient-provider relationship. Patients want answers. When a patient comes in with a respiratory illness, you want the ability to quickly and confidently diagnose, differentiate between a viral or bacterial pathogen and start the necessary treatment.

By contrast, if the patient hears, "Well, it's probably just a viral infection" without test results to back this up, they may feel dismissed. They might believe you're not taking them seriously or that you don't think they are as sick as they feel. By identifying the pathogen, you are able to provide both peace of mind and appropriate care.

Point-of-care results allow you to diagnose during the patient's visit rather than waiting days for results. In many cases, providers can reduce the time for sharing results from three days to just minutes with an on-site testing capability.

Instead of sending patients to another lab location for sample results, having test results available at the time of the patient visit saves the patient time, eliminates confusing bills for tests from the lab and supports improved patient satisfaction. You're providing an efficient one-stop-shop they will appreciate.

Offering this added service allows you to provide better care and more value for the patient.

2 | Molecular testing helps to improve your facility's efficiency

Today's practitioners face a number of hurdles in providing efficient, compassionate care. Time is certainly one of the biggest barriers to delivering quality care. The less time you and your staff devote to administrative duties, the more time you can spend treating patients and providing the type of patient-centered care that's important to you.

On-site molecular testing can give you back time as you increase the facility's efficiency by reducing phone calls. Think about all the communication required throughout the send-out process while waiting for results. When you finally get that result, after potentially taking a follow-up call or two from the patient, you then have to explain the results in another call. You may even have to schedule a second visit to share more care requirements. This results in pushing a host of operational challenges down the line rather than taking care of it all in one visit.

Another benefit that physicians using point-of-care molecular testing mention is the cost certainty for their practice. By conducting testing in-house, they can retain and grow revenue as well as save money by eliminating the costs related to sending out tests. Physicians utilizing onsite testing understand what it costs to administer the test and the impact it will have on staff time to run the test themselves. They avoid the extra downstream administrative work involved in sending out tests, making calls, tracking the tests to get the result back into the patient's chart and making sure the necessary information is shared.

3 | Molecular testing supports antibiotic stewardship

Over 30% of antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary, while nearly 20% of antibiotics may be prescribed inappropriately with respect to antibiotic selection, duration, and dose.1 Some of this is driven by pressure from patients. A study of over 1,500 participants found that one in five people would expected their physician to prescribe antibiotics for an upper respiratory infection. The main reason reported was that participants believed that antibiotics would help with their illness. A secondary reason was that they felt that antibiotics represented a positive return on investment for their doctor's visit.2

Unfortunately, prescribing unnecessary antibiotics can damage the patient's protective bacteria and lead to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are responsible for infecting about 2.8 million people annually in the United States and approximately 35,000 people die due to these infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.3

An accurate test during a patient's visit can provide a diagnosis that allows you to quickly determine the appropriate treatment and get the patient on board with your treatment recommendation. 

Reaping the benefits of molecular testing

Providers are seeing the advantages of on-site molecular testing that allows them to rapidly turn around an accurate result. The improvement in technology with rapid molecular diagnostic testing has revolutionized the diagnosis of infectious diseases, offering practitioners the opportunity to use an entirely different strategy that helps them to provide better care while improving efficiency.

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1. https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/data/outpatientprescribing/index.html

2. https://aricjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13756-016- 0134-3

3. https://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/index.html

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