Early example of how in-store walk-up clinics may expand their lab testing services
Pathologists concerned that in-store walk-up clinics might become important laboratory testing centers will be interested to learn about the latest development. The largest operator of these in-store clinics has just partnered with an in vitro diagnostics (IVD) manufacturer for exclusive access to a new rapid diagnostic test.
MinuteClinic, the pioneer and largest operator of in-store health clinics, has a deal with Rapid Pathogen Screening, Inc. (RPS), a Sarasota, Fla.-based biotechnology company, to offer the RPS Adeno Detector test for conjunctivitis, or pink eye. This new point-of-care (POC) test will be initially offered at the MinuteClinics located in 23 CVS pharmacy stores in the Atlanta area.
The conjunctivitis test was developed on a assay platform known as Direct Sampling Micro-Filtration Technology. RPS says this proprietary technology enables it “to develop, manufacture, and market rapid, easy-to-use, POC diagnostic detection tests for infectious diseases and agents, inflammatory conditions, genetic markers, as well as select chemical warfare and bio-terrorism agents.”
This partnership is targeting conjunctivitis because it is highly contagious condition that spreads quickly among children in schools or other close environments, such as camps or recreational facilities. The rapid test developed by RPS is unique because it diagnoses whether the cause is viral or bacterial.
One reason that MinuteClinic and RPS are optimistic about the potential for this test is that the cause of pink eye is often difficult to diagnose. To be on the safe side, the majority of physicians always prescribe antibiotics, even though only 40% to 60% of pink-eye cases are caused by bacteria.
MinuteClinic expects this new test will allow its nurse practitioners to make an accurate, on-the-spot diagnosis, then send the patient home with a prescription if appropriate while using a more accurate diagnosis to avoid antibiotic overuse, noted Donna Haugland, Chief Nursing Officer for MinuteClinic. After the Atlanta pilot, MinuteClinic will roll out the pink-eye rapid test nationally at its 500 clinics in 25 states. MinuteClinic’s cost for the conjunctivitis treatment is $77.
This may be an early example of how a new-generation rapid test can move testing traditionally performed by clinical labs to a near-patient setting. Dark Daily believes retail walk-in medical clinics are likely to add selected diagnostic tests as they evolve. RPS is giving MinuteClinic distribution rights to the conjunctivitis test, making it clear that the manufacturer also views walk-in clinics as a desirable marketing channel for its products.
In coming years, as manufacturers of POC tests disperse their products throughout the healthcare system, clinical labs will want to develop strategies to position themselves as expert consultants in diagnostic testing. In this way, they can maintain useful relationships based on the ability of pathologists and laboratory scientists to help physicians order, interpret, and act upon the diagnostic tests performed on patients.—P. Kirk