Improving infection control with new diagnostic technologies

Improving infection control with new diagnostic technologies

September 10, 2019

There’s a growing need for rapid diagnostic tests to help manage UTIs and other drug-resistant pathogens, which drastically cut down on the time it takes to identify an infection. While “getting ahead of the infection” with frontline antibiotics before you have a confirmed diagnosis might seem like an easy solution, treating a patient before you know the exact cause of their symptoms can be ineffective and even dangerous, leading to the development of an antibiotic-resistant pathogen. With faster diagnostic tests, nurses and doctors will be encouraged to wait for results and identify a more effective treatment that can eradicate what might be a complicated UTI before it further progresses. Rapid tests also help prevent transmission through a facility.

Digital records create real-time, on-demand medical history
Some biotechnology companies are taking rapid diagnostics one step further by incorporating digital health into the equation. We’re well into the 21st Century, yet managing medical records is still a challenge for many healthcare institutions. A patient’s information might be digitally recorded in the office of their primary care physician, who can access their medical history at the push of a button when they visit.

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But what happens if this patient comes down with an urgent illness or injury while visiting another state? An emergency room or urgent care center might not have access to any of this information and time might be lost gathering pertinent details when the patient is checked in. Records for infections and drug-resistant pathogens are lacking. Many of these infections present themselves in similar ways but have distinct differences that could impact whether or not a particular treatment will be effective.

Companies are developing solutions that allow the results of rapid diagnostic tests and treatments used to be gathered in a digital database or patient registry. These applications are already being adopted at major hospitals in the U.S. and can be used to track pathogens across multiple systems and even between facilities using digital records, on-demand and in real time. One key result is potentially improved outcomes at the patient level, due to more accurate diagnosis and treatment suggestions. On a broader scale, this technology can protect entire health systems from infection outbreaks by predicting when a patient is afflicted with a similar infection strain and recommending treatment courses that have worked on that strain in the past.

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