Covid-19 tests are some of the most important tests to be run in the last year. Testing processes have been implemented and improved upon as quickly as possible to help get control of this pervasive virus.
Covid-19 tests are divided into two categories: Diagnostic and antibody.
The diagnostic tests determine the presence of active coronavirus infections and the need for quarantine/isolation recommendations. The diagnostic tests are then divided into subtypes:
• Molecular – A test looking for genetic material from the virus
• Antigen – A test looking for specific proteins that are evident in the virus
Antibody tests are not meant to diagnose Covid-19, and the presence of antibodies has not proven to provide immunity from COVID-19. Antibody tests only show if you have had the COVID-19 virus previously, although researchers are using the data collected from these tests to study the effect of COVID-19 antibodies and immunity rates.
The choice of test tends to depend on how quickly the results are needed. The results can take as long as a week or return as soon as 15 minutes.
The samples are also obtained differently depending on the required test. Some 15-minute tests can be run with a simple saliva sample but there are only a few of those. Most tests require a nasal or throat swab, but most require the nasopharyngeal swab, requiring the swab to be inserted into the nose and sample taken in the throat behind the nose.
Antigen tests are diagnostic and require nasopharyngeal samples. Some of these give 15 to 30-minute results but are less accurate than the antibody tests.
Antibody tests to look for previous infections are blood tests and require a blood draw or finger stick. Results take one to three days, but some can return the same day.
The alternative methods of diagnostic testing have different benefits.
• The rapid point-of-care tests require a sample of mucus from the nose or throat but can be analyzed in the doctor’s office and can be available in minutes. The rapid tests are available in either antigen or molecular variations.
• Combination tests look for the coronavirus and the flu or other types of respiratory illnesses together.
• Saliva tests are available for better patient comfort. A cheek swab inside the mouth is much more comfortable than obtaining the nasal or pharyngeal mucus. Some tests only require the patient to spit into a tube which can also be slightly safer for the healthcare professional gathering the sample by allowing them to maintain better distancing from a patient exhibiting Covid symptoms.
The availability of these tests is making it easier to test for and treat COVID-19 but is your office or clinic billing these tests correctly to receive maximal reimbursement? If not, your practice is losing funds they are entitled to. Call One Source Medical Billing 888-624-5563 and let us improve your bottom line.