Our triple-hitting technology focus section this month covers molecular diagnostics, infectious disease and antibody testing, three hot areas for diagnostics.

Although most molecular testing performed today is done only in large hospital and reference labs, it bears watching. Many lab industry prognosticators believe that within three to five years, PCR-type molecular testing will be as cost effective as serological testing. Currently, a molecular test costs about $60 to perform and is reimbursed at $13-$18, the same rate of reimbursement for a serological antibody test, which costs about $2 to perform. When you hear about lab reimbursement being a bit warped, this is an outstanding example of what is meant!

If molecular diagnostics lives up to its “PCR in a bag” promise, it will probably do so at the expense of antibody testing. Why wait six weeks for the antibodies to develop and test when you can measure the virus in a day? It also holds out hope for stemming the tide of over-prescription of broad-spectrum antibiotics by clinicians. With assurance of a fast diagnosis, maybe more clinicians will go back to diagnosing a disease before they treat it.

— Coleen Curran