Flu@home: The Comparative Accuracy of an At-home Influenza Rapid Diagnostic Test, Using a Pre-positioned Test Kit, Mobile App, Mail-in Reference Sample, and Symptom-based Testing Trigger

Journal of Clinical Microbiology

Kotnik J, Cooper S, Smedinghoff S, Gade P, Scherer K, Maier M, Juusola J, Ramirez E, Naraghi-Arani P, Lyon V, Lutz B, Thompson M,

ABSTRACT

At-home testing with rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) for respiratory viruses could facilitate early diagnosis, guide patient care, and prevent transmission. Such RDTs are best used near the onset of illness when viral load is highest and clinical action will be most impactful, which may be achieved by at-home testing. We evaluated the diagnostic accuracy of the QuickVue Influenza A + B RDT in an at-home setting. A convenience sample of 5,229 individuals who were engaged with an on-line health research platform were prospectively recruited throughout the United States. "flu@home" test kits containing a QuickVue RDT and reference sample collection and shipping materials were pre-positioned with participants at the beginning of the study. Participants responded to daily symptom surveys. If they reported experiencing cough along with aches, fever, chills, and/or sweats, they used their flu@home kit following instructions on a mobile app and indicated what lines they saw on the RDT. Of the 976 participants who met criteria to use their self-collection kit and completed study procedures, 202 (20.7%) were positive for influenza by qPCR. The RDT had a sensitivity of 28% (95% CI: 21-36) and specificity of 99% (98–99) for influenza A, and 32% (95% CI: 20-46) and 99% (95% CI: 98-99), for influenza B. Our results support the concept of app-supported, pre-positioned at-home RDT kits using symptom-based triggers, although it cannot be recommended with the RDT used in this study. Further research is needed to determine ways to improve the accuracy and utility of home-based testing for influenza.