Modern medicine relies on lab tests, imaging, and other forms of medical tests to find out more about the likely cause of a patient’s condition, to predict the future course of disease, or to select and monitor treatment. Like other interventions in healthcare, medical tests should be thoroughly evaluated before they be given access to the market, be reimbursed, and recommended in practice guidelines.
Unfortunately, the evaluation of medical tests has received far less attention than the methods for evaluating pharmaceuticals and other interventions. It is now always clear what the best approaches are for evaluating the clinical performance of medical tests, or the best strategies for estimating their clinical effectiveness.
In this course, we will give an overview of current concepts and modern methods for evaluation medical tests. As guiding principle, we take the premise that decisions about tests are now based on the effect that they have on patient outcomes – clinical effectiveness – and that measures of the clinical performance of tests should be inform about the effectiveness.
The course will look specifically at a few purposes for testing: diagnosis, prognosis, treatment selection, and monitoring. We will also discuss how to make evidence-based recommendations about medical testing, as in clinical practice guidelines and reimbursement decisions.
We rely on a combination of lectures, assignments and small group discussions. In the assignments we will critically read studies and learn how to interpret the results. Computer work is beyond the scope of the course.
Lecturers and facilitators have been recruited from well-known researchers from the Netherlands and from the United Kingdom, with an excellent background in teaching and training programs on this topic.