Study: Europe-wide growth in gene-based tests
The application of gene-based tests in hospitals and private laboratories has increased across Europe. This emerged in a recent study on molecular diagnosis, run by data information intelligence GmbH (dii) in Leipzig. "Compared to the first survey, carried out in 2009, we noted a significant increase in the use of these procedures," says Kathrin Franke, managing consultant of dii.
Ms Franke continued, "The increasing use of molecular diagnostics means a higher quality of health care. For example, these tests facilitate the early diagnosis of infectious diseases and thus reduce the risk of infection. When dealing with cancer, gene-based tests provide important clues as to the genetic causes of cancer and contribute to the selection of appropriate treatment options. "
According to the study, the number of tests for antibiotic-resistant pathogens in particular has increased rapidly. Germany is at the forefront of this development, with the number of laboratories offering gene-based MRSA assay increasing from 170 to 270 within the past two years.
It seems that in other EU countries, however, molecular diagnosis of antibiotic-resistant organisms has not yet been established. Of the 72 hospital laboratories surveyed in Italy, only two reported using this type of test. In Spain, it was only one out of 27 laboratories and in the UK, only twelve percent of the laboratories surveyed, although those asked had, on average, a high test volume. As Ms Franke said, "These differences are a result of the various health system structures and funding models."
The study also brought some criticisms to light. The private labs, in particular, complained about the limited reimbursement by health insurance companies and the resulting limitations as to what they could offer. "This actually prevents improvements in patient care. It is precisely in the area of infectious diseases/viruses that molecular diagnosis has proven to be much faster. Immunological detection of antibodies can take up to two weeks to present valid results," says Kathrin Franke.