Florida Health Insurance Definitions

Florida Health Insurance Terms:
Define: "Diagnostic Tests"

What are "Diagnostic Tests?": These are the tests and procedures ordered by your physician to determine if you have a certain condition or disease; based upon specific signs or symptoms demonstrated by you. Such diagnostic tools include, but are not limited to radiology, ultrasound, nuclear medicine, laboratory, pathology services or tests.

Diagnostic Tests Include:

  • Colonoscopy
  • ERCP
  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy
  • Lower GI Series
  • Liver Biopsy
  • Upper GI Series
  • Upper Endoscopy
  • Virtual Colonoscopy

Technical assessment of screening tests (used for persons who are asymptomatic but who may have early disease or disease precursors) differs from the assessment of diagnostic tests (used for persons who have a specific indication of possible illness). Most aspects of the assessment of diagnostic tests also apply to the assessment of screening tests, but the differences can be important.

The first difference is that, with screening tests, the proportion of affected persons is likely to be small. Therefore, many or most positive results are false positive. This finding is not necessarily serious if the screening test procedure is included in a broader program that involves further study of each initially positive finding; evaluation should focus on the whole process rather than on the initial results. In contrast, with diagnostic tests, many patients have medical problems that require investigation; thus, more weight may be given to things such as diagnostic precision and accuracy, and less weight may be given to the acceptability of the test to patients.

A second difference is that, with screening tests, questions are likely to arise about how and how much long-term outcomes improve. Early detection of disease is helpful only if early intervention is helpful. Early intervention is sometimes helpful (eg, in hypertension), but testing for early asymptomatic glaucoma has been widely abandoned because early detection may not affect the outcome.

A third difference between screening tests and diagnostic tests is cost. A program to screen millions of people to identify a small percentage who have early disease or its precursors cannot justify use of the financial resources that may available to support diagnostic testing, especially when patients who have conditions that require accurate diagnosis and relief already exist.

In addition, the arrangement of the sequence of steps in the medical investigation can vary substantially. Also, procedures for recruiting and scheduling of subjects and methods of quality control, record keeping, and follow-up may differ. These differences may be used in the technical assessment of a test.

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