by Curlan Campbell
- BioFire FilmArray TORCH system can test for 22 viral and bacterial infections including Covid-19
- Covid-19 results provided by SAMS are recognised in most countries globally except for Barbados
St Augustine’s Medical Services Inc (SAMS), now has the capability to mount a more effective response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The facility has in its arsenal the latest advancement in molecular infectious disease diagnostics, and through the use of BioFire FilmArray TORCH can test for 22 viral and bacterial infections including SARS-CoV-2 (the coronavirus Covid-19).
This Multiplex PCR system approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) will make testing for Covid-19 become as routine as testing for influenza and other respiratory diseases. Further, because the symptoms of respiratory infections are quite similar and most times overlap, one of the advantages of this new system is its syndromic panel that can take away the guesswork of selecting which pathogens to test for by providing fast and comprehensive results within 60 minutes from a patient receiving a nasopharyngeal swab.
“In this present climate, it makes sense to be able to broaden your search, as diagnosis and timing is everything. The company that was marketing it came to us last year. We were deciding on the investment however with the advent of COVID in late 2019 we pulled the trigger as we saw the tremendous value-added benefit of this platform,” said Dr Lutz Amechi, Managing Director and Resident Physician at SAMS.
Patients having symptoms of a respiratory infection will first be examined by a physician. This will include taking a travel and contact history, then a nasopharyngeal swab sample will be taken for testing. The BioFire FilmArray TORCH Multiplex PCR system can test for
- Coronavirus HKU1
- Coronavirus NL63
- Coronavirus 229E
- Coronavirus OC43
- Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2 or Covid-19)
- Human Metapneumovirus
- Human Rhinovirus/Enterovirus
- Influenza A
- Influenza A/H1
- Influenza A/H3
- Influenza A/H1-2009
- Influenza B
- Parainfluenza Virus 1
- Parainfluenza Virus 2
- Parainfluenza Virus 3
- Parainfluenza Virus 4
- Respiratory Syncytial Virus
- Bordetella parapertussis
- Bordetella pertussis
- Chlamydia pneumoniae
- Mycoplasma pneumoniae
Dr Amechi stated that the introduction of the new system has modernised the collecting and analysing of blood samples for bacterial infections which traditionally can take between 3-5 days to get a result. With this system, the process of testing can be completed in mere hours. “Once you get a positive blood culture and it starts to show positive within 12 to 24 hours, you do a swab of that and within an hour you can get an answer. It tells you very precisely what bacteria you are dealing with and once you know what bacteria you are dealing with then you know how to tailor your antibiotic therapy more appropriately.”
At SAMS, proactive steps have been taken to modernise the way medical records are archived and disseminated to patients through their electronic medical records system, a capability that healthcare facilities globally are utilising, contributing towards paperless healthcare.
“Added to that we now have a patient portal, part and parcel of this EMR system…where you the patient can go online and access your records so instead of having me print out a piece of paper which can get wet, lost or fade over time, you can have a digital record.”
Paul Hughes, CEO at Bijou Ltd, who works with Canadian Health Systems (the vendor for the software) in setting up new features and maintaining the EMR Advantage system at SAMS, has approved this initiative towards evidence-based decision-making in the management and delivery of better health services.
“Technology has to come with new processes and new ways of doing things which is what Bijou is continually helping SAMS to do, having this technology you cannot keep the old way of patient care, it must evolve with your new tools. SAMS is doing this with their EMR Advantage system and seeing how it can integrate with their other systems, like the Lab Information System that is used to get results automatically from testing machines and exploration of a new electronic medical stores and pharmacy system.
SAMS is going paperless. They are saving patients time in getting results, and are offering patients complete online access to their medical history. SAMS realises that patients are demanding the same high standard of efficiency and care that is experienced in developed countries, being in Grenada is no longer an excuse not to deliver. In this regard it’s not just being able to do the best most efficient test on a new machine but it’s the entire ecosystem of care that is being offered here at SAMS that is utilising all the technology to its fullest.”