Point of care testing (POCT) can be defined as the provision of a test when the result will be used to make a decision and to take appropriate action, which will lead to an improved health outcome. The basic objective of POCT is to produce a result swiftly yet reliably.
According to Accreditation Canada POCT refers to “any testing conducted outside a lab, in a hospital, in a clinic or by a health care organization providing ambulatory care. This includes testing performed at sites outside the traditional lab dedicated to medical biology, near where care is delivered to the client. POCT results may lead to a change in the care of the client. It ranges between three levels of complexity, from simple procedures such as glucose testing, moderate‐complexity procedures including provider performed microscopy procedures like used in TB or high‐complexity procedures such as influenza testing.”
The healthcare system is changing so quickly. Everyone has to run at that high speed just to keep up. Having a good health is just like happiness, can’t remain constant and whomsoever looking to maintain the status quo should not be in or go into healthcare as a profession. The change process shows no sign of slowing down.
In fact, all aspects of this field are moving equally fast like automobile industries, various new technologies like robotics and information technologies (IT). IT boosted so much in recent decade. Economics is also improving as well etc. It is no wonder that POCT is moving quickly ahead as one of the major approaches to solving what seems to be the major challenge that is how to do more with less.
What is the purpose of POC and why it is important?
1. The result of POCT is so quick that it can be done within seconds, to minutes to a few hours while the patient waits. At least result should be given on the same day depended on the complexity range of the diseases.
2. It provides rapid turn-around results that affects the clinical management of referral system, follow up of patient, treatment decisions and decision to discharge the patient.
3.The results of POCT are very useful in clinical decision making for any doctor. As the final diagnosis helps doctor to take appropriate action for the treatment without any further delay.
4. It is convenient for the patients and care providers as well. It mainly derives from the fact that the diagnostic process is achieved with in the same clinical encounter. And the patients do not have to come back for testing or go far away for some testing in medical laboratory.
Common POCTs are:
Rapid coagulation testing (PT/INR, Alere, Microvisk Ltd),
Rapid cardiac markers diagnostics (TRIAGE, Alere)
Drugs of abuse screening,
Urine strips testing,
Faecal occult blood analysis,
Food pathogens screening,
hemoglobin diagnostics (HemoCue),
Infectious disease testing
Cholesterol screening (cholesterol, VLDL, LDL)