In light of technology advances, a recent publication in Nature Microbiology, updates the current benchmark that describes the ideal diagnostic test, taking into consideration the need to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and leave no one behind.
“It has been more than a decade since I coined the acronym ‘ASSURED’ to guide the development of diagnostic tests to meet user needs, particularly for those in the developing world,” says Prof Rosanna Peeling, Professor & Chair of Diagnostics Research at LSHTM and i-sense Flagship 1 lead.
“Our suggested update to ‘REASSURED’ sets new benchmarks for diagnostics to inform disease control strategies in real time by leveraging developments in digital technologies and mobile health.”
With the addition of two new measures – real-time connectivity and ease of specimen collection – those involved in developing tests are encouraged to incorporate the best of the existing diagnostic world with new and existing technologies.
Ideally, all new point of care diagnostics, including diagnostics for infectious diseases, should meet the REASSURED criteria:
- Ease of specimen collection
- Affordable by those at risk of infection
- Sensitive with very few false-negatives
- Specific with very few false-positives
- User-friendly tests that are simple to perform and require minimal training
- Rapid, to enable treatment at first visit, and Robust, for example not requiring refrigerated storage
- Equipment-free and environmentally friendly
- Delivered to those who need
The introduction of real-time connectivity addresses the advancement in technology by considering how existing technologies can support ongoing treatment and linkage to care.
“As testing becomes more widespread in a variety of non-laboratory settings, data-linkage is crucial to support follow up care and public health efforts. We should also ensure that specimens are easy to collect and that tests have a small environmental footprint,” says Prof Peeling.
“The work that i-sense researchers are doing - developing ultrasensitive tests and using smartphones to interpret and digitally connect test results to healthcare – is addressing the new REASSURED criteria.”
mHealth solutions can address the real-time connectivity component of the criteria and offer the possibility to better track outbreaks and assess the impact of health interventions. The ultimate aim for REASSURED diagnostics is for them to support the Sustainable Development Goal that strives for ‘no one left behind’ in terms of health care delivery.