A non-profit patient safety organization recently evaluated seven COVID-19 rapid tests to determine their ease of use and found notable gaps in usability across the spectrum.

According to experts at the non-profit, ECRI, none of the tests were rated as excellent and some had notable usability concerns. ECRI initiated the evaluation as consumer demand for COVID-19 rapid tests increased due to the spread of the omicron variant.

ECRI analyzed seven popular COVID-19 rapid tests based on the well-established System Usability Scale (SUS), which rates products on a scale of 0 to 100 with 100 being the easiest to use. More than 30 points separated the top and bottom tests analyzed.

“Our evaluation shows that some rapid tests are much easier to use than others,” says Marcus Schabacker, MD, PhD, president and CEO of ECRI. “If given options, consumers should choose tests that are the easiest to use because when a test is difficult for a consumer to use, it may lead to an inaccurate result.”

The tests evaluated and their ratings on the SUS scale are as follows:
1. On/Go: Very good (82.9)
2. CareStart: Very good (80.8)
3. Flowflex: Very good (79.5)
4. QuickVue: Good (75.6)
5. BinaxNOW: Good (73.3)
6. InteliSwab: Good (73.3)
7. BD Veritor: Okay (51.8)

ECRI analysts says some tests require particularly fine motor control or have instructions with extremely small font size that may make it difficult for older adults and others with complex health conditions to use the tests correctly.

Schabacker says consumers should be aware of the specific usability concerns of their chosen rapid test so that they can try to mitigate any factors that may lead to an inaccurate result.