A significant percentage of long-term care providers, including assisted living, are not using the Covid-19 rapid antigen tests developed by Abbott Laboratories, highlighting the need for direct access to multiple types of coronavirus testing, according to a new survey released Monday by LeadingAge.
The nonprofit senior housing industry association received input from 547 of its members during the first week of November, gauging their experiences with various government-supplied point-of-care tests. Out of 547 responses, 305 came from assisted living providers, with nursing homes, home health and hospice providers also responding.
A majority of respondents — 66% — have received the Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card Point of Care (POC) SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic tests. But 37% of that number are not using the tests, citing a variety of reasons including polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing to be more reliable and PCR testing protocols already in place; awkward reporting requirements for using the tests; other point-of-care testing supplies being used first; and having only received the tests recently.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded Abbott Laboratories a $760 million contract in August to deliver 150 million BinaxNOW tests, which was seen as a possible game-changer for assisted living providers struggling with securing testing and related expense pressures.
The $5 test, roughly the size of a credit card, is conducted via a nasal swab and provides results in less than 15 minutes. But some of the survey’s respondents reported that training staff how to use the tests takes up too much time, while others suggest that reporting the results of the tests is too cumbersome.
A vast majority of respondents — 89% — reported having accessed some form of training on using the tests, either from manufacturers, online videos and webinars or sessions hosted by LeadingAge.
The survey also revealed that providers are using a mix of testing types: 62% are using PCR tests; 54% are using BD Veritor point-of-care tests and 46% use Abbott BinaxNOW cards. Access to the BinaxNOW tests continues to be an issue: nearly 20% of respondents have only received one delivery of the tests to date.
But respondents are satisfied with the quickness of the results and noted that the testing process is straightforward, once staff are trained on the process. Still, LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan used the survey to continue calling for greater and more streamlined access to a variety of coronavirus testing.
“Providers in all care settings need support not only with access to constant supplies of multiple types of tests, but also with the necessary reporting and funding to pay for test supplies, PPE, and staff so that providers and public health officials know the state of infection in communities,” she said in a statement.