Alfa Wassermann discussed hemoglobin A1c testing in the latest issue of Repertoire
What is it? How does the test work?
The American Diabetes Association recently recommended the use of the HbA1c assay to diagnose and screen for diabetes and pre-diabetes. HbA1c has several advantages over traditional fasting plasma glucose and glucose tolerance tests:
- Greater convenience, because fasting is not required.
- Improved preanalytical stability.
- Fewer day-to-day variations caused by illness and stress.
How has the technology improved?
Technology has helped to improve the accuracy and precision in Hemoglobin A1c testing. These improvements have been driven by the National Glycohemoglobin Standardization Program (NGSP), which was established to standardize HbA1c testing. In addition, improved technology has led to the development of no-pretreatment HbA1c assays, which reduce manual processes in the laboratory, lowering labor costs and enabling a faster turnaround time.
This fall, Alfa Wassermann will introduce a new, no-pretreatment HbA1c assay designed to:
- Eliminate pipetting, saving customers time and improving precision.
- Use liquid-ready reagents.
The assay is certified by National Glycohemoglobin Standardization Program (NGSP) on the ACE and ACE Alera Clinical Chemistry Systems.
Probing questions to ask your customers
“Doctor, how many people with diabetes do you treat in your practice?”
“How do you monitor how well your patients manage their blood glucose control?”
“Hemoglobin A1c measures the time-averaged blood glucose levels over the last three to four months. Do you think this would be a useful test to add to your practice?”
“My patients understand glucose, but are not familiar with hemoglobin A1c. What is the relationship between HbA1c and plasma glucose levels?”
“HbA1c measures the weighted average of blood glucose levels during the preceding 90-120 days, the life span of a red blood cell. Greater “weight” or importance is given to blood sugar levels in the past two to four weeks than the past three to four months. Because it measures an average level, HbA1c provides better insight into how well patients control their blood sugar.
“An HbA1c assay is more expensive than a glucose test. Why should I pay more?”
“In 2010, the American Diabetes Association recommended use of the HbA1c assay to diagnose and screen for diabetes and pre-diabetes. In addition to providing better monitoring information on a patient’s overall glucose control, HbA1c testing can be done at any time that a patient visit is scheduled. It is simpler to perform than a glucose tolerance test and it’s less dependent on the patient’s health status at the time a blood sample is obtained. Although HbA1c costs more, reimbursement is also greater than a glucose test.”