At FIND, when we talk about connectivity, we mean diagnostics connectivity…linking diagnostic tests with communications technology to better manage health data and maximize the health impact of diagnostic tests.
The use of IT in healthcare is probably 10-15 years behind industries like banking, manufacturing and airlines. Few diagnostic tools yet have the ability to transmit data directly to laboratory information systems or electronic medical records. Instead, test results are written down on a piece of paper – risking that they don’t even reach the health-care worker, let alone the patient.
Connected diagnostics can help us overcome several health system challenges related to manual reporting.
One of the biggest challenges in health care is ensuring that patients who have been diagnosed actually get their test results and receive treatment. An estimated 1 in 10 people with a confirmed TB diagnosis never even start treatment!
Connectivity solutions can help to strengthen the link from patient diagnosis to treatment. When an accurate diagnosis is followed by prompt treatment, sick people are more likely to get better and onward transmission of infectious diseases is halted.
Connected diagnostics strengthen national and global disease surveillance. The real-time transmission of geo-tagged test results to national health information systems means that potential disease outbreaks can be flagged immediately, allowing for rapid investigation and response. In an Ebola outbreak, for example, a positive test result could trigger immediate contact tracing so family members and others who may have been exposed could also be quickly tested.
Supply chain & diagnostics maintenance
The real-time capture of diagnostic test data can improve supply chain management and forecasting to reduce stock-outs of essential lab reagents and medicines. Reliable information supports health systems to make better budgeting and purchasing decisions.
In addition, remote monitoring can support diagnostic device management and quality assurance by tracking the proper functioning of diagnostic equipment and reporting maintenance needs ahead of critical problems.