A large number of companies making tests to diagnose infections are aiming to design tests which will be used by GPs in community settings. These rapid tests can give a single result to help doctors decide if an infection is present, or can perform a combination of different tests on a single patient sample at the same time. There are clear benefits to only having one machine, for example in a GP surgery where it may not be practical or desirable to have lots of different machines which aren’t used a lot or where single tests can’t work out what is wrong with a patient. A key question with systems like this is which tests should be prioritised and which should be grouped together to get the greatest benefits for doctors and patients. These decisions are often made without any data.
The wide range of illnesses that GPs see makes prioritising which tests might go together even harder. We would like to use routinely collected data from samples sent from general practices to the Oxford University Hospitals laboratories to grow bacteria and other microorganisms. We are interested in which tests are most commonly requested, which organisms are most commonly detected, which are requested together and which are requested one after another for individual patients. We will use these data to work out what tests companies should be trying to make available in the community as a priority, and which could be put together, possibly combined with other blood test results, for use in general practices.