Poll: Clinicians say COVID-19 testing remains critical

Two-thirds report conducting on-site testing.

While many Americans may think the COVID-19 threat is over, the vast majority of clinicians are still taking it very seriously.

In a Becton Dickinson/Harris Poll, 93% of clinicians say they are likely to recommend a COVID-19 test when a patient is experiencing symptoms, and 96% believe that the right tools for testing are critical for timely diagnosis and care. And because COVID and the flu have similar symptoms, 87% indicated they are interested in purchasing a combination test for their practice.

“It can be incredibly challenging for medical providers to differentiate between COVID-19 symptoms and symptoms of other very common upper respiratory complaints, including influenza, allergies, the common cold,” said Jeff Andrews, vice president Medical Affairs, Integrated Diagnostic Solutions, BD Life Sciences, in a statement. “This is because many of these symptoms overlap and are present in several of these complaints such as coughing, sneezing and sore throat. The best way for clinicians and patients to know is to test.”

The survey found that about nine in 10 clinicians perform COVID testing, with almost two-thirds saying they conduct tests on site and 25% saying they send samples to a lab. For clinicians who conduct COVID testing, the average number of tests in the past month is 116.

They study also found that 92% of clinicians expect patients to question whether they have COVID-19 or allergies, and 86% expect a surge of patients that will require testing during the upcoming flu season.

Moreover, 66% say they would be willing to pay more for the ability to have digitally read test results, and/or the ability to automatically report results to health authorities (62%). Clinicians cited reliability of results (81%), cost (76%), timeliness of results (75%) and ease of use (69%) as the top factors that would make them more interested in using flu/COVID-19 combination tests.

PCR tests were viewed as effective by 99% of those surveyed, while 86% said rapid antigen tests are effective. However, 97% say a mixture of either rapid molecular or antigen testing with PCR confirmatory testing as effective for detecting COVID-19.

The vast majority (93%) say that reliable and widely available testing of all types is one of the most important ways to stop the spread of COVID. The same number agree that rapid antigen at-home COVID-19 testing is a good solution for patients who cannot schedule a time at a testing facility or doctor’s office, while 88% would encourage patients to purchase at-home rapid antigen tests for COVID-19.

The research was conducted online in the U.S. by The Harris Poll on behalf of and commissioned by BD and surveyed 300 clinicians whose primary medical specialty is family practice, general practice or internal medicine. The survey was conducted from March 28 to April 12, 2022.