LTC point-of-care testing for infection control and chronic care management - Primary Health

LTC point-of-care testing for infection control and chronic care management

  • January 29, 2024

  • Primary.Health Editorial Team

  • 3 minutes

Primary CLIA-waived testing in long-term care settings helps prevent infection spread and manage residents’ chronic conditions, averting costly hospitalizations.

Long-term care facilities (LTCFs) provide crucial medical and personal services to people unable to live independently. Because they serve a mostly elderly population, LTCFs face unique challenges when it comes to managing residents’ health that can be addressed with CLIA-waived point-of-care testing. 

For example, close proximity and shared spaces among residents make LTCFs susceptible to common and often contagious infections. Additionally, most LTCF residents (94 percent) have at least one chronic medical condition, with over three quarters (76 percent) having two or more chronic conditions. These conditions require ongoing management and also make residents more susceptible to infections.

Immediate results guide care decisions

For these reasons, point-of-care (POC) testing is a critical tool for infection control and chronic care management in LTCF settings. Under Primary.Health’s CLIA waiver, LTCFs can perform any CLIA-waived POC test under Primary’s remote lab supervision and receive immediate results to guide care decisions. Primary subscribers also utilize our robust software platform that streamlines test administration, test result recording, communications, compliance tasks, and much more.

Let’s look at some ways Primary CLIA-waived testing helps LTCFs to control infection spread and manage residents’ chronic conditions.

Preventing infection spread

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 to 3 million serious infections occur in LTCFs every year. These include respiratory, gastrointestinal, and skin infections. In elderly residents with compromised immune systems, these infections can cause severe complications and even death.

Consequently, the ability to quickly identify and treat infections is critical to preventing their spread.

Take influenza, for example. Residents of LTCFs can experience severe and fatal illness during influenza outbreaks. For this reason, the CDC recommends frequent testing of residents to manage influenza in LTCF settings – even outside of flu season.

In a recent study by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, rapid POC testing of LTCF residents for influenza allowed earlier detection of outbreaks, faster treatment with antiviral medication, and much lower hospitalization rates.

Additionally, participating LTCFs also saw emergency room visits by residents decline by 22 percent, hospitalizations decline by 21 percent and hospital length-of-stay decline by 36 percent.

These significant drops in hospital utilization affect Medicare ratings for LTCFs, which are posted on Medicare.gov. Consumers review these ratings to evaluate long-term care facilities for themselves and loved ones.  

Improving chronic care management

The most common chronic conditions among LTCF residents that benefit from point-of-care testing include high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. Under a Primary CLIA waiver, LTCFs can conduct a range of POC tests to monitor and manage these chronic conditions.

Take diabetes, for example. In LTCFs, 25 to 34 percent of residents receive treatment for diabetes. In nursing homes alone, the burden of diabetes is estimated at $18.6 billion resulting from hospitalizations, treatment of complications, medications, and other factors.

The A1C test — also known as the hemoglobin A1C or HbA1c test — is a simple POC blood test used to diagnose and manage pre-diabetes and diabetes. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends regular HbA1c testing for all patients with diabetes.

Providing A1C testing at the point of care not only makes it easier for LTCFs to follow ADA testing guidelines but also allows the care team to immediately review results, adjust treatment if necessary, and avert costly hospitalizations and ER visits. 

Start your Primary CLIA waiver application

Whether used to offset the spread of RSV or prevent a LTCF resident’s hospitalization from diabetes complications, Primary CLIA-waived testing provides rapid, reliable results to guide treatment and improve resident health and satisfaction. We handle all your paperwork and compliance needs, too!

Schedule a call today to walk through the Primary CLIA waiver application process and explore CLIA-waived test options available to your facility.

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