Answering questions about antibiotics for the fast and the curious

17 Nov 2014

Written by Shweta Kulkarni

We are genuinely curious. We are also living in an information age where our curiosity is fulfilled and rewarded instantaneously. So it’s natural that when it comes to issues related to our own health or those close to us, we storm to our smartphones or computers to learn more.

As soon as we look up information and dig into topics, we become experts of medical expressions and phrases previously alien. In the discussion surrounding resistance to antibiotics and the role of diagnostics in identifying the right antibiotic, it is now more important than ever to provide reliable, timely and accurate information to patients and caregivers about their diagnostic tests.

Understanding diagnostic tests 

Diagnostic tests are the first step in many healthcare decisions. They are performed on biological samples (for example blood, urine or tissues) to diagnose or exclude a disease. They range from sophisticated technologies performed in clinical laboratories to simple self-tests, such as those for pregnancy and glucose monitoring.  From hand-held diagnostic labs that detect multi-drug resistant HIV, TB and malaria to companion diagnostic tests that answer the question, “Will this cancer drug work?” before its prescribed, will soon become common place.

In our fast and curious age, it is important that we bring ourselves to understand the role of diagnostics and the specific tests used for assessing our sensitivity to antibiotics.

Enter Lab Tests Online 

Lab Tests Online is an information resource created for patients and caregivers to help understand the laboratory tests used to screen, diagnose, and monitor a broad range of conditions and diseases. The award-winning platform was created by the American Association for Clinical Chemistry and developed globally in partnership with the European Diagnostic Manufacturers Association and scientific societies. Available in 14 languages in 17 countries worldwide (including 12 websites in Europe), the content is also available as an app in three countries and in book form in China, where it is used to reach areas where access to technology may not be available.

Importantly, the purpose of Lab Tests Online has grown from being a platform solely to provide laboratory test information to a tool that encourages patient-doctor dialogue. The site is regularly updated with a screening guide, relevant news, and in-depth articles. For example, Lab Tests Online receives direct input from users of the website on a daily basis via several online forms. Feedback from these forms is used to help guide and prioritise new developments as well as to improve existing articles.

The efforts of the Longitude Prize Committee in facilitating the creation of an affordable, accurate, rapid and easy-to-use test for bacterial infections within five years are of dire importance. Similarly, increasing understanding of susceptibility tests used to determine the effectiveness of antibiotics should not be underestimated.

As we continue to live in the ‘fast and curious’ age, the Lab Tests Online platform will remain a reliable resource, with the clear objective of educating patients by providing them with the information they are looking for—information that is reviewed by specialists, written in a language that patients can understand and available at their fingertips when they need it the most.

Did you know that susceptibility tests:

“Help determine the likelihood that a particular antibiotic or antifungal drug will be effective in stopping the growth of the bacteria or fungi causing your infection.”

“May also be ordered when an infection does not respond to treatment to see if the pathogen has developed resistance and to determine which antimicrobial agent would be more effective in treating the infection.”

Learn more on Susceptibility Testing.

-Shweta Kulkarni, Europe Lead, Lab Tests Online and Communications Manager, European Diagnostic Manufacturers Association