Evaluating the Use of Rapid Influenza Testing in Outpatient Medical Settings

Source: Joint Commission, August 2008

The Joint Commission and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are engaged in a cooperative agreement to evaluate how rapid tests for influenza are used in outpatient medical settings by surveying community health centers, solo and group practice physician offices and hospital emergency departments. Currently, the extent and quality of rapid testing for influenza in outpatient settings is unknown. This study seeks to understand who tests, how they test and how cases of influenza are reported to public health systems. The information gathered will be used to help the CDC formulate guidelines for the appropriate and safe use of rapid tests for influenza.

As part of this project, an online collaborative forum on the subject of rapid influenza testing has been developed and launched. Members of the project’s technical advisory panel (TAP), public health officials, outpatient medical care providers, laboratory professionals and others interested in the topic of rapid influenza testing are encouraged to utilize the Wiki web-page that has been created exclusively for this project. The goal of the Wiki is to serve as a forum where participants can share information and experiences with rapid influenza testing. Information exchanged may include: rationale for test use, problems with the testing process, strategies to overcome problems, staff training, quality assurance activities, and perceived advantages and disadvantages to the tests.

The Wiki webpage is divided into six sections:
• Section 1: contains a brief introduction to the project;
• Section2: “Research & Resource Reports” gives users the opportunity to post articles and other resource material, as well as comments related to specific resources;
• Section 3: “Field Experiences” operates just like the “Research & Resource Reports” section; however, its purpose is to allow individuals practicing in outpatient medical settings to share their experiences with rapid influenza tests;
• Section 4: “Links” allows users to post links to external websites and other wiki webpages related to rapid testing for influenza;
• Section 5: “References” is reserved for citations and links to academic research on rapid influenza testing; and
• Section 6: “Recent Comments on Rapid Testing for Influenza” gives users the opportunity to post comments and engage in online dialogue about the topic.

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