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Impact of Rapid Diagnostics on Socio-economic Burden

Introduction to Rapid diagnostics and Socioeconomic status

Rapid diagnostic testing(RDT) is usually considered a quick screening measure in medical facilities with limited resources. Apart from only being a point-of-care (POC) availability[1], the term in recent years experienced a broader view with the inclusion of fields like antimicrobial susceptibility evaluation and infectious diseases identification[2]. From the healthcare point of view, POC or Rapid Diagnosis has become an essential part of the diagnosis sector. It can be a better option when considering the socioeconomic outcomes of a society. The following concepts will help us to understand this approach.

Socio-economic status (SES) is a method of understanding a person’s capability to access financial, educational, social, and health resources based on that individual’s or his family’s status of economic access, type of job, and educational background. Depending on access to the above points, a person can have a high, medium, or low socioeconomic status. People with lower socioeconomic status tend to have less access to these resources as compared to those with high socioeconomic status. Studies showed that there’s a strong connection between people’s health status and their SES results[3]. Therefore, people with low SES are considered to have poor health outcomes compared to higher SES.

The socioeconomic burden of diseases is an outcome or the estimate of the cost required by a society for the treatment of particular diseases[4].

So where does the Rapid Diagnostic come into the picture?

The following perspectives will help us understand the impact of this technology.

Financial perspective

In the context of SES, India has a major population between the upper middle and lower classes [5]. This simplifies challenges countered by an Indian family for accessing health money-wise, as the process of treatment, including diagnosis and monitoring of the diseases, creates a heavy toll on an individual’s budget.

The growing demand for POC testing, the use of rapid tests in the hospitals and healthcare sector, technical innovations, increased use of immunoassays, and Covid-19 impact on the healthcare industry have underlined the perception of strong growth of the industry, reaching $26.4 billion by 2029[6]. This data suggests that RDT has sustainable and rapid growth ahead in the future.

There is a growing consideration among developed countries that the healthcare industry reached its limitations in terms of finance and resource availability, which will challenge the ability of a society based on socioeconomic costs involved in dealing with illnesses. Considering this shift in thinking, RDT is making a strong case for saving a considerable portion of finance because of its rapid delivery of results, and the minimum cost required by the facility[7].

Technological perspective

The cost of illness considers the elements in the process and technology has a major role in it. Innovations in immunoassays, refinement of previous techniques, increased sensitivity and specificity, development of benchtop models, and use of qualitative and quantitative parameters have steadily improved the volume of POC testing in the healthcare industry[6].

Duration of the assessment

The time required for the treatment since an encounter with the issue indirectly impacts the cost of illness, whereas the time taken for diagnosis affects the direct costs incurred in hospitalization, medical treatment initiation, and further course of action[7]. POC testing alters the turnover time of the conventional diagnosis, which can hamper the value of the treatment in emergencies. This process, along with the improved quality of testing, with both qualitative and quantitative aspects, is becoming a key for reliable and rapid treatment decisions[8].

Altogether, these perspectives denote the potential of rapid diagnosis lowering the expenses and time consumption for health assessment, ultimately the socioeconomic burden. RDT has a positive impact considering views as large as the post-covid global financial crisis and as specific as an individual’s challenge of managing their health. As per these angles, and the cost of illness management, point-of-care testing has a bold statement to make ahead.

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