Rapid Diagnostics Builds for Its Future

The fast-growing business looks to develop new near-patient tests and expand markets.

Strategy and Strength|Nov.02, 2018

Nearly 2 billion. That’s how many tests that medical professionals administered using rapid diagnostic and point-of-care devices in the past year.

People around the world enjoy immediate benefits from these tests: they find results faster, receive more accurate diagnoses and some receive medical care that they otherwise wouldn't have because of rural, remote and hard-to-access settings.

After integrating operations on six continents with businesses as diverse as consumer tests, molecular testing and data-centric analysis, Abbott’s Rapid Diagnostics business is poised to build on its industry-leading position in the segment.

"We've succeeded in combining the best elements to build a real powerhouse," said Sharon Bracken, senior vice president for Rapid Diagnostics. "We are focused on driving growth of our devices into new regions and countries as well as to different customer segments."

There are abundant opportunities to build on Abbott's No. 1 position for rapid diagnostics by introducing near-patient tests that achieve outcomes in minutes and yield more accurate diagnoses in less time. Among the most interesting products to watch:

  • The Afinion 2 platform provides a popular series of cardiometabolic tests – related to blood sugar, heart health and cholesterol – that can be administered quickly and accurately in a high-growth area for medical testing. The device’s compactness, speed and versatility arms healthcare professionals with the information needed to make fast and accurate medical decisions—three minutes for HbA1c and five minutes for an Albunim/Creatine Ratio that address chronic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure— allows more time to counsel patients within a single office visit. Building on Abbott's heritage in diabetes care, the platform empowers patients with information.
  • The ID NOW platform presents a robust opportunity to add molecular-based tests for the influenza virus as well as Strep A and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). The enhanced Influenza A & B 2 assay offers the fastest point-of-care molecular detection and differentiation of influenza A and B virus available – in 13 minutes or less, with early call out of positive results in as little as five minutes – and allows for room temperature storage of all test components, simplifying and streamlining test ordering and storage.
  • With flu season already ramping up, the potential addition of molecular-based testing provides a powerful tool for helping combat the annual spread of the virus. Improved testing can lead to earlier diagnosis and shorter windows of time where patients can spread the virus, which can cause up to 700,000 hospitalizations during flu season.

  • For Rapid Diagnostics' toxicology area, the eScreen business provides next-generation employment screening applications for hiring and maintaining healthy and drug-free workforces. This initiative is part of expanding point-of-care solutions and informatics value offerings to differentiate Abbott from other lab service providers or low-cost manufacturers and reach more employers and governments. As attitudes and laws around the world change regarding illicit drug use, Abbott's toxicology solutions – such as the First Check home drug test kit and the DDS2 roadside analyzer – are leading solutions to keep schools, communities and workplaces healthy and safe.

Rapid Diagnostics' five business units – toxicology, cardiometabolic and informatics, infectious diseases in emerging markets and infectious diseases in developed markets and consumer services and products – build around Abbott's legacy Point of Care business and leading i-STAT testing platform. Combined, this full spectrum of testing offerings can provide a one-stop shop for healthcare professionals around the world.

What's next for Rapid Diagnostics is expanding its traditionally strong markets such as hospitals and clinics, as well as taking these offerings to untapped markets such as wellness centers, retailers and direct to consumers. This push along with continued development of established markets such as hospitals and labs accompanies a strong push to enhance customer service.

"Near-patient testing is exceptionally promising for diagnostics because of its speed, accuracy and ease of use, and because these experiences are close to our customers we need to deliver perfect service," Bracken said. "We're laser-focused on ensuring quality from when health professionals order our tests to how they're used, and making those transactions seamless will always drive continuous improvement for our customer experience."