Figure 1. One-third of community health center patients were uninsured.
(Data from Community Health Network of Washington)

Access to health care benefits individuals and the society in various ways, while limited access to health care negatively influences the quality of life. The major barriers concerned with the access to health care include lack of availabilities, high costs and lack of insurance coverage. These limits lead to delays in receiving appropriate treatments, unmet health needs, inabilities to get preventive services and hospitalization. The access to health care could be improved in four different aspects: services, costs, timeliness and effectiveness, which are also considered to be critical factors for effective pathogen detection service.

Improving the pathogen detection system depends on ensuring that people have a common and ongoing source of health services, especially increasing the access to and the use of evidence-based preventive services or facilities. Prevention of illness should be improved by detecting early warning signs or symptoms before they develop into serious diseases, considering the detection of diseases at early stages leads to the most effective and cost-effective treatments. The cost of health care directly affects the access to related services or facilities for the reason that people could not afford the cost for health care would be less likely to receive appropriate medical care and more likely to have poor health status. Lack of inexpensive pathogen detection services makes it difficult for people to get better health care and burden them with large medical bills. Timeliness refers to the ability of health care systems to provide health care quickly, including reducing the time to wait for services or facilities and the time for detection or treatment. Prolonged time for detection of pathogens decreases the satisfaction of patients, increases the number of patients who give up detection or treatment, and is closely related to the clinically significant delays in medical treatment. The effectiveness of health care is one of the most important concerns in improving medical conditions because it’s directly related to the quality of medical treatments and the reliability of the health care system.

Figure 2. The significance of improving portable pathogen detection.
(Data from A Summary Profile of Pathogen Detection Technologies)

Access to health care system, especially detection of pathogenic microorganism, is required to be improved for the current problematic pathogen surveillance system. Some existing methods for detecting pathogens in food and water control or clinical diagnosis include microorganism culturing for testing specific characteristics of the morphology of the colony and the biochemical functions, mass spectrometry testing for specific proteins, polymerase chain reaction testing for specific DNA sequences. The most traditional method to detect pathogens is culturing, which is sensitive and cost-effective but the test takes days. The testing methods with molecular or biochemical technologies are efficient and fast but the facilities and service are not easily accessible, and the cost is high.

Some specific issues in improving pathogen detection that should be monitored include designing and constructing novel but safe and effective pathogen detection methods, increasing timeliness and convenience of using the new systems for detection, improving the sensitivity and specificity of pathogen detection services, and decreasing the cost of pathogen detection.


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