ECRI Institute Reveals Important Differences in Prenatal Genetic Tests

Educational webinar will focus on evidence and key differences among four commonly used noninvasive prenatal tests

May 9, 2018

PLYMOUTH MEETING, PA—Obstetric and gynecology practices and health insurers have to deal with varying quality and consistency of the available evidence on noninvasive prenatal tests. These tests can help pregnant couples determine whether a fetus is at risk for a chromosomal abnormality such as Down syndrome.

While the evidence base on some well-known conditions includes many good-quality studies, little to no evidence exists that shows that the noninvasive prenatal tests can accurately detect rare conditions. Some tests are intended to identify many conditions, but the evidence on their effectiveness may be scant.

On May 22, 2018, analysts from ECRI Institute's independent genetic test information service ECRIgene™ will host an educational webinar to address issues surrounding tests by Roche Sequencing (Harmony™ Prenatal Test), Sequenom (MaterniT® 21 Plus), Natera® Inc. (Panorama®), and Illumina® (verifi® Prenatal Test).

The program, Noninvasive Prenatal Tests: Bringing Evidence into the Equation, is intended to help healthcare professionals, including genetic counselors, understand how to differentiate between noninvasive prenatal tests and standard-of-care tests. ECRI’s experts will explain how to parse the differences among the tests currently on the market and will explain the current state of the evidence for each test, including evidence gaps.

"The controversy here is multifaceted, and involves third-party reimbursement coverage policy as well as clinical decision making. Should clinicians use only tests that have been well validated and test only for conditions that inform patient management? Or is testing for a large number of conditions better even if it means more patients will get false-positive test results? Clinicians struggle with this decision every day and it can play a part in how payers make coverage decisions," says Shoshannah Roth, PhD, assistant director, Health Technology Assessment and ECRIgene, ECRI Institute.

ECRI Institute’s speakers will present data analysis from a series of recently published evidence reports in ECRIgene, its service that helps providers, payers, and genetics professionals make more-informed decisions on genetic, genomic, and proteomic tests.

"One of the main points we want to make, contrary to popular opinion, is that not all noninvasive prenatal tests are the same. We’ll highlight the differences in the studies on four available tests and how the results of those studies impact decision making," says Dr. Roth.

For more information or to register, please visit or contact ECRI Institute by telephone at (610) 825-6000, ext. 5519; by e-mail at; or by mail at 5200 Butler Pike, Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462.

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About ECRI Institute
ECRI Institute (, a nonprofit organization, dedicates itself to bringing the discipline of applied scientific research to healthcare to discover which medical procedures, devices, drugs, and processes enable improved patient care. As pioneers in this science for 50 years, ECRI Institute marries experience and independence with the objectivity of evidence-based research. Strict conflict-of-interest guidelines ensure objectivity. ECRI Institute is designated an Evidence-based Practice Center by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. ECRI Institute PSO is listed as a federally certified Patient Safety Organization by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Find ECRI Institute on Facebook ( and on Twitter (