Rapid diagnostics have proved their value in many countries as the world responds to COVID-19, yet a number of barriers have hindered wider acceptance. Gerard Frahill, Abbott’s Business Development Manager for Informatics in Australasia, explains that greater use of informatics could overcome some of these hurdles and unlock the potential for this testing technology to contain the virus.
One of the challenges to greater adoption of point of care testing is often the siloed nature of point-of-care (POC) data collection, which hampers trend analysis, hotspot identification and contact tracing.
This is a long-standing problem that pre-dates COVID-19. Which is why I see that the answer could be Abbott’s AegisPOC point of care management system, a vendor-agnostic cloud-based solution that collects data from multiple devices and presents it in a useable format.
The system has been evolving internationally over the past 10 years and was launched in Australia and New Zealand two years ago to help community and hospital-based services to store and analyse the high-quality POC data they are increasingly collecting from patients.
AegisPOC is an enabler of the increasing use and sophistication of POC technology - it works across GP clinics, emergency departments, hospital wards and corporate settings such as mines, where there may be a need to screen employees for pathogens.
Just as the need for a picture archive and communication system in radiology is now obvious, centralised POC data management is becoming an accepted necessity. COVID-19 is highlighting the need and making it more urgent. But the need will still be here after the pandemic is over.
Even before the pandemic, a major private laboratory in New Zealand started rolling out AegisPOC. In Australia, Abbott is working with a major private laboratory to implement AegisPOC as its POC informatics solution.
The system allows organisations to set thresholds for out-of-range results, for example if you are looking for something specific in paediatric or geriatric testing, or a specific disease state.
Another benefit is full visibility of connected devices and patient flow through different locations.
In the context of COVID-19, the question is how to make sense quickly of results from population-based screening in schools, shopping centres, airports, and workplaces to name just a few settings. The system enables you to ensure that you’ve captured people’s deidentified demographics and that you have some oversight of testing at a national level.
COVID-19 has sped up the realisation that when you have many sources of rapid tests from different manufacturers and multiple sites, there is a need for a centralised system to identify hotspots to enable track and tracing in a controlled fashion. With appropriate informatics systems many of these challenges can be eased, enabling health systems to maximise their opportunities to detect and contain the virus.
Gerard Frahill is Business Development Manager Informatics for Abbott in Australasia.
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