What is Point of Care Testing (POCT) ?
Point of Care Testing (POCT) covers different areas of medicine and can play a decisive role in patient care. In a nutshell, Point of Care Testing are tests performed with a small sample volume, at the same location where the care or treatment is given. The results are in turn fast, taking only five up to thirty minutes to become available. Thanks to this agility in providing results, patients can proceed quickly with treatment. Some tests, such as blood glucose monitoring and pregnancy are still the most common types of point of care testing, however, hemoglobin measurements, prothrombin, and infectious diseases testing are becoming increasingly more common. Point of Care Testing can significantly contribute to speed-to-therapy, however, it is important to highlight that this technology does not aim to replace the importance of laboratory testing, but rather to complement it.
What are the benefits of Point of Care Testing?
The evolution of point of care represents a breakthrough for diagnostic medicine:
- by increasing patient wellbeing
- saving costs for the healthcare system
- fighting antimicrobial resistance (AMR)
- and helping control the spread of infectious diseases.
For some diseases, such as diabetes, Point of Care Testing has helped to improve the treatment delivery methods, allowing the continuous monitoring of patient’s condition.
This technology can also be used as a weapon in the fight against the antimicrobial resistance (AMR) since an early identification of a bacterial pathology reduces the spectrum of antibiotics needed for the treatment.
Finally, POCT helps laboratories deliver reliable results in less time. That being the case, patients’ length of stay at the hospital is reduced, which in turn benefits their quality of life. Simultaneously, the turnover of beds increases, therefore hospitals can save costs and work more efficiently.
Another remarkable benefit of Point of Care Testing is the potential to help in reducing the spread of infectious diseases. For instance, one of the factors which hampered the proper management of Covid-19 was the long interval between the collection of samples and the release of results. In this scenario, clinical laboratories, capable to perform real-time polymerase chain reactions (RT-PCR) were unable to cope with high demand of the tests. A study conducted by the University Hospitals Southampton NHS Foundation Trust has shown that the use of POCT for Covid-19 diagnosis had a direct impact on reducing the time of results release, optimizing patient’s referral, and therefore, helping to control the intra-hospital transmissions. This restates the importance of this technology, which could help us to control other pandemics that may occur in the future.
Where can Point of Care Testing be applied?
Point of Care Testing can be applied in multiple settings, including hospitals, physicians’ offices, clinics, emergency settings, home care, remote and rural areas, etc. Additionally, various health care professionals can perform it, such as laboratory professionals, radiologists, physicians, nurses, assistants, and others.
More specifically in hospitals, POCT has the great ability to optimize the patients’ flow of care, and when used outside the hospitals to contribute to reducing unnecessary visits. The same rationale is observed in doctor’s offices, clinics, and emergency services, where agility is essential for fast diagnosis so that treatment can be indicated quickly, improving the patient’s health condition.
What are the Opportunities for the Pharmaceutical and MedTech Industry?
Every day the Point of Care Testing market receives more and more attention and investments. According to the analysis of Reports and Data, the global point of care diagnostics market was valued at USD 23.98 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach USD 50.51 billion by the year 2026, at a CAGR of 9.6%.
The advantages of POCT are very broad, and different needs and settings are motivating the adoption of this technology. Consequently, many benefits and opportunities can be explored by manufacturing companies and retailers.
First, Point of Care Testing products are cost-effective and easy to market, offering great aggregated value for retailers.
Second, this technology can be implemented in multiple therapeutic areas, within customers of niche therapeutic areas, increasing distributors’ opportunities to offer diversified options to a broader range of customers.
Finally, when pharmaceutical and MedTech companies invest in innovative technologies, such as Point of Care Testing, they are also investing in their competitive potential while bringing benefits to patients and healthcare professionals.
Overall, the evolution of Point of Care Testing brings a quicker diagnosis to patients and saves costs for both the healthcare providers and receivers. POCT can help in tackling diseases as well as monitoring in different clinical and non-clinical settings, while administered by a variety of medically trained staff. Finally, the use of Point of Care Testing keeps growing, and companies are motivated to invest in this market. Pharma and MedTech companies continue to probe opportunities by exploring new offers, new geographies, and new ways to innovate, while Alcimed is ready to be your partner and guide you in this exploration.
About the author
Jessica, Consultant in Alcimed’s Healthcare team in Belgium