Connectivity of Diagnostic Technologies: Improving Surveillance and Accelerating Tuberculosis Elimination
In regard to tuberculosis (TB) and other major global epidemics, the use of new diagnostic tests is increasing dramatically, including in resource-limited countries. Although there has never been as much digital information generated, this data source has not been exploited to its full potential. In this opinion paper, we discuss lessons learned from the global scale-up of these laboratory devices and the pathway to tapping the potential of laboratory-generated information in the field of TB by using connectivity. Responding to the demand for connectivity, innovative third-party players have proposed solutions that have been widely adopted by field users of the Xpert® MTB/RIF assay. The experience associated with the utilisation of these systems, which facilitate the monitoring of wide laboratory networks, stressed the need for a more global and comprehensive approach to diagnostic connectivity. In addition to facilitating the reporting of test results, the mobility of digital information allows the sharing of information generated in programme settings. When they become easily accessible, these data can be used to improve patient care, disease surveillance and drug discovery. They should therefore be considered as a public health good. We list several examples of concrete initiatives that should allow data sources to be combined to improve the understanding of the epidemic, support the operational response and, finally, accelerate TB elimination. With the many opportunities that the pooling of data associated with the TB epidemic can provide, pooling of this information at an international level has become an absolute priority.