Doris-Ann Williams MBE, CEO of BIVDA presented to MPs at the latest meeting of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, which focused on life sciences in the UK. Welcomed to the meeting by Chair, Andrew Miller MP, Doris-Ann was joined by Professor Guy Poppy, Chief Scientific Adviser at the Food Standards Agency, and Dr Malcolm Skingle CBE, Director, Academic Liaison, GlaxoSmithKline.
With a wide range of parliamentarians, academics and industry members in the audience, Doris-Ann gave an introduction to diagnostics. She outlined where diagnostics are used and the importance that they play throughout the patient pathway; diagnosing (or ruling out diagnosis), monitoring, screening and predicting/preventing illness. She also gave case studies showing their necessity to healthcare, as well as examples of tests, and how they can combat the ‘grand challenges’ of the day, free up NHS resource and meet previously unmet clinical need.
“The upcoming years may well be known as the age of diagnostics” Janet Woodcock, Director of CDER, FDA, April 2012
In the coming years IVDs will be increasingly harnessed by the NHS, personalising medicine, bringing it closer to the patient, making treatment more relevant. The importance of diagnostic innovation has been recognised by the Government and a variety of bodies have been set up to try to get innovation in to the NHS, including the DEC’s the AHSN’s and the Catapult centres.
In her presentation Doris-Ann put forward three themes diagnostics take, with examples for clarity. This includes – diagnostic dependent drugs (companion diagnostics) central lab testing, and Point of Care testing in the community.
Diagnostic dependent drugs will be more widely utilised. These personalise or stratify patient care, identifying patients who will respond to a certain drug versus patients who won’t respond to a drug. This is already used in oncology e.g. the companion diagnostic – Herceptin and HER2neu.
Pharmacogenetics on the other hand, looks at personalised responses according to genetic make up to a specific drug.
Doris-Ann reminded the committee and guests that diagnostics have an exceptional role to play in the fight against antimicrobial resistance. She pointed to sepsis, speed of diagnosis is crucial here, with mortality rate increasing by 8% for every hour left untreated. Improved access to effective diagnostics is key, to get patients off broad spectrum diagnostics sooner and onto the right treatment at the right time.
The IRIDICA Platform by Abbott was outlined as a case study. With rapid diagnostic information in 6 hours, and direct sampling from the patient it is a good example of efficient lab tests. It can show an enormous range of pathogens, and whether they are viral or bacterial.
Point of Care testing in the Community is a great opportunity to catch two, or even three, birds with one stone – freeing up GP time, reducing A&E waits and stopping unnecessary admissions into hospital.
Doris-Ann cited the award-winning Emergency Multidisciplinary Unit (EMU) in Abingdon, led by Dr Dan Lasserson. This unit focuses on older and frailer patients in the community, and is open 7 days a week. Patients can be referred by either their own GP, a community nurse or ambulance paramedic. Within the doors of the EMU, is a point of care blood testing service with rapid results as well as X-ray facilities, both enabling a speedy diagnosis. Dr Lasserson boasts that patients have their results back within 61 minutes of picking up the phone to emergency services. Dr Lasserson has said “reducing time to knowledge is invaluable”. There are a number of beds available to those who need to stay in longer, as well as follow up services for care at home, if necessary.
The cost savings to the NHS are huge, given that bed based tariff cost savings based on weighted average cost per patient of £2,483.36 on an average age 85-89. You can find an article about the project in the Guardian here.
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