Assessing the accuracy and cost of using near patient tests for influenza
Faster diagnosis of flu in hospitals, using tests like the Alere i Influenza A & B NPT, could save the NHS money.
Influenza (Flu) is a respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. Most people recover from fever and other symptoms within a week without requiring medical attention. However, flu can cause severe illness in certain people including: pregnant women, young children, the elderly and individuals with long-term medical conditions including ones that affect the immune system. Flu is very contagious and can easily spread, especially within enclosed areas like hospitals. Near patient tests (NPTs) for flu are performed close to the patient rather than in a laboratory and have the potential to diagnose the infection quickly. These tests could enable faster access to the most effective treatments and efficient isolation of patients to prevent transmission to others. However until recently there were no NPTs for flu that were accurate enough to be used.
Alere funded us to conduct a multicentre study and compare the accuracy of their Alere i Influenza A & B NPT with standard laboratory testing. We also examined the potential clinical and economic impact of using Alere’s test. We recruited 827 patients from four large hospitals in Newcastle, Sheffield and Doncaster during the 2014 – 2015 winter season.
Our research demonstrated that the Alere i Influenza A & B NPT is as accurate as standard laboratory testing when using throat swab samples. The greatest benefit of the test was producing a much quicker result than laboratory tests. We also estimated that using the Alere test would result in annual cost savings of over £200k per 1000 patients.
- Alere changed aspects of their test based on NHS staff feedback during the study.
- Both Doncaster Royal Infirmary and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals have since adopted the Alere i Influenza A & B NPT.
- Data from the study supported the business case for using NPTs for influenza in Newcastle Hospitals.
For more information read the case study on the AHSN NENC website.