Friday, December 23, 2016 Written by Cepheid

Q&A with Dr. Beryl Oppenheim

Dr. Beryl Oppenheim talks about the Cepheid GeneXpert® System

Q: Can you provide some background on your first exposure to the Cepheid GeneXpert® System? What was your immediate reaction when you saw a demonstration of the system?

Dr. Beryl Oppenheim: In 2007 I attended a conference and trade exhibition where I saw the GeneXpert System for the very first time. I was amazed at the sheer simplicity and it was at that point that it occurred to me that this platform could potentially be able to be used for routine PCR testing in a Point-of-Care (POC) environment.

Q: Knowing the inherent complexities of PCR testing what factors did you make sure to evaluate with the GeneXpert System?

Dr. Beryl Oppenheim: Traditional PCR techniques require dedicated physical spaces, equipment, and technicians with specialized skills — which immediately negates its application in a POC environment. We needed to be sure that this was not the case with the Cepheid GeneXpert.

Q: In addition to the ease of use what were some of the upsides?

Dr. Beryl Oppenheim: With the requirement of specialized skills, traditional PCR is rarely performed on-demand, therefore creating delays in the physicians receiving a result and in this case being aware of the patient's MRSA status. An obvious benefit was that with the simplicity of the technology and the fact that the test could be performed anytime, anywhere, that physicians could have results when they are most needed, normally at the time of admission of the patient.

Q: What were some of the challenges?

Dr. Beryl Oppenheim: One of the obvious challenges is that costs cannot be compared to traditional culture, such as for MRSA. But, one must look at what the benefit is when the result is available within hours versus days. If the test is a cost-effective way of managing patients and changing the strategy to manage them, then it may be that these savings offset the original costs.

It takes collaboration with the laboratory along with others participating in the patient management process to connect the dots and quantify what the impact is.

Q: Explain the process that you use to ensure quality and competency with staff that are not laboratorians?

Dr. Beryl Oppenheim: The laboratory must control the process to comply with regulatory bodies. The laboratory develops a training program, assesses competency on an ongoing basis and holds a registry of all staff that are trained.