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Making Diagnostic Testing More Accessible

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BD and Babson Diagnostics have recently announced a strategic partnership agreement, with the aim of making laboratory-quality diagnostic testing more accessible to patients. This will be achieved with the use of a new capillary blood collection device being developed by BD, which once approved by regulatory bodies, will circumvent the need for a trained phlebotomist to collect blood for lab testing and can be used in a retail setting.

Technology Networks
spoke with Erik Allen, Vice President and General Manager, Specimen Management for BD, to learn more about the partnership, the advantages of capillary collection, and the importance of making diagnostic testing more convenient and comfortable for patients.

Anna MacDonald (AM): What advantages does capillary collection have over venipuncture?

Erik Allen (EA):
Capillary collection is a less invasive collection technique done with a lancet versus a large needle. One of the big advantages of capillary blood collection is that it can be done in settings beyond a hospital or a lab, like a retail location.

AM: Does working with capillary samples present any specific challenges?

Traditional challenges with capillary blood are getting enough volume of blood, a poor patient experience, healthcare worker blood exposure, and blood quality. (Traditionally a finger is lanced and then ‘milked’ manually from the finger into an open collection tube.)

AM: Can you tell us about the capillary blood collection device you are developing and how it overcomes some of these obstacles?

We are designing our capillary collection system to addresses each of these challenges. Our system is designed to provide consistent volume and blood quality, reduces blood exposure to the healthcare worker, and most importantly provides a better patient experience. In early testing of the system, patients preferred this new capillary collection device 3-1 over traditional capillary collection techniques. In particular, because our system does not rely on the “milking” of the patient to get the sample, patient comfort is improved.

AM: How does it compare in terms of accuracy and cost?

The sample quality is superior to conventional capillary blood collection techniques and we are targeting a product that can achieve quality comparable to a venous blood sample. In particular, our preliminary testing has shown that hemolysis is significantly improved versus traditional capillary blood collection methods. The overall cost of the test should be comparable to costs today.

AM: What range of tests can be undertaken using this technology?

Through our partnership with Babson Diagnostics, we are targeting some of the most common tests, including CMP and CBC.

AM: How did the partnership with Babson Diagnostics come about? Why was it important to incorporate their automated sample handling and analytical technologies?

We have been following the market trends of healthcare consumerism, empowered patients, and the rise of non-acute care. Babson Diagnostics is a partner we found while looking for companies who also want to address these challenges and provide high quality diagnostic test results that are convenient and accessible. We realized to meet these needs, we needed a partner to create an ecosystem that will bridge between the technology and service to the patient. Babson Diagnostics’ analytical technologies and service model is a great fit with our capillary collection system.

AM: Why is it important to make laboratory-quality diagnostics more accessible?

About 70% of all medical decisions are influenced by lab tests. By making testing more accessible while providing the same high-quality sample and accurate results, we can improve the speed and accuracy of medical decision making. Many lab tests are unfilled or not filled in a timely manner. Providing easier and more convenient access to providing a sample leading to accurate diagnostic results can only improve this.

Erik Allen was speaking to Anna MacDonald, Science Writer for Technology Networks.