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DIATHERIX Technology Offers Faster Diagnoses, Decreases Costs


 A recent case study underscored what Dennis Grimaud knew already … the novel testing technology employed by DIATHERIX Laboratories, Inc. (DLI) not only offers a faster, more accurate diagnoses of a wide variety of infectious diseases compared to traditional testing, but the approach also has the potential to significantly lower costs by reducing patient infection rates, decreasing the days patients need to be kept in isolation, and prescribing fewer unnecessary or ineffective antibiotics.

With a corporate motto of “accurate identification leads to appropriate treatment,” DLI uses an amplification process known as Target Enriched Multiplex Polymerase Chain Reaction (TEM-PCR) in combination with the microarray detection platform for highly accurate, very fast results. Grimaud, who is chairman and CEO of DLI, said results are typically available the same day as the specimen arrives in the lab.

“We can look at up to 25 pathogens in a single reaction,” he noted. “Most of the time, you do a single test … you get a single result. But with ours, you get multiple results.” Grimaud explained the multiplex platform duplicates the substance being tested enabling very small amounts of material to yield results for an array of infectious agents … both viral and bacterial.

 The company, which is headquartered in Cool Springs and has its CLIA-certified, high complexity reference lab in Huntsville, Ala., engaged in a pilot partnership with Kettering Medical Center in Ohio in August 2010. “We were anticipating a financial impact of roughly $225,000 in the first year,” said Grimaud. Instead, the hospital realized a positive impact of $3.7 million.

Grimaud said DIATHERIX entered into an agreement with Kettering whereby DLI set up a laboratory at the hospital with no upfront investment from the healthcare facility. Having the country’s only onsite hospital lab using TEM-PCR diagnostic technology meant test results were available within about six hours compared to traditional cultures, which typically take a minimum of 48 hours.

Catherine Bacheller, MD, an infectious disease specialist at Kettering, said the quick turn-around dramatically improved patient care, particularly for those with MRSA “and other multidrug resistant organisms where antibiotic decision-making has such an impact on patient morbidity and mortality.” She continued, “Within a day, I have at my fingertips all the information I need to directly target the organism causing infection and to stop unnecessary, broad spectrum antibiotics with their associated side effects, toxicity and healthcare costs.”

As part of the pilot study, Grimaud said patients who were going to be admitted for more than 24-hours post-surgery were tested, primarily for MRSA, 10 days prior to surgery. About 15 percent of patients were found to be colonized but didn’t have active infection. In those cases, the patients were directed to use a nasal antibiotic and chlorhexidine soap. At the end of five days, that patient population was tested again. Given new regulations that decline reimbursement for treatment of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), Grimaud said it is vital that a hospital be able to establish that an infection was present prior to admission.

“If a patient was transferred from another institution or if they had a history of MRSA in the last 12 months, then they were automatically put into isolation,” Grimaud continued of Kettering’s MRSA protocol. “This (the rapid testing) took 67 percent of patients out of isolation within the first 24 hours.”

By providing accurate information faster, Grimaud said physicians don’t have to empirically treat patients. Instead, the provider is able to target therapy based on an identified pathogen with improved patient outcomes and a healthier bottom line.