Essentia Health introduces 30-minute flu, strep testing systemwide

Duluth, Minn.-based Essentia Health launched a large-scale rapid result testing system for influenza A, B, strep throat and respiratory syncytial virus.

The health system invested about $2 million to acquire 60 Cepheid analyzers for its hospitals and clinics. Essentia is the first system in the nation to implement the whole line of testing systems from the molecular diagnostics company. While this technology has been available to hospitals for years, the FDA waived testing regulations to allow outpatient facilities to use the advanced diagnostic systems this year.

"The Cepheid analyzers are molecular-based systems that detect the DNA or RNA of infectious bacteria or viruses in patient samples," David Carter, MD, a pathologist at Essentia Health, said in a press release.

Essentia clinicians will use the new analyzers in outpatient facilities, which most insurance companies will cover, starting in November. The system will allow patients at Essentia Health clinics to receive test results within 30 minutes.

In 2017, Essentia performed about 40,000 strep tests on patients across Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Idaho.

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