What is a diagnostic?

A diagnostic is a test that is used to understand the reason behind a patient’s symptoms or illness to make a diagnosis.

Diagnostics can be either invasive or non-invasive. Invasive diagnostics, such as a blood sample or biopsy, involve puncturing the skin or entering the body. Otherwise, diagnostics are known as non-invasive. Common examples of non-invasive diagnostics include eye exams, radiology scans, and routine physicals.

Some diagnostics such as COVID-19 rapid tests or pregnancy tests can be done from home or in community settings. More intensive diagnostics, such as blood tests or colonoscopies, are performed in a doctor’s office or a laboratory.

Why are diagnostics important in healthcare?

Diagnostic procedures are important because they help doctors understand a patient’s specific condition and prescribe an accurate course of treatment. They also help doctors to monitor the effectiveness of treatment strategies and ensure that patients receive the most appropriate care to achieve the best health outcomes.

On a population level, diagnostics can help monitor how diseases are spreading in the population and the effectiveness of prevention measures. This helps both the government and the healthcare system to allocate resources and trace, contain, and respond to outbreaks.