Abstract: Point-of-care (POC) testing in community settings in Australia has rapidly evolved during the past decade. The development of large-scale national and statewide community-based POC testing programs have delivered evidence-based outcomes highlighting the analytical quality, the clinical effectiveness, and (where appropriate) the cultural effectiveness of POC testing. The use of community-based POC testing, particularly in geographically isolated Australian communities, has practical advantages for the patient, the health professional performing POC testing, the treating practitioner, and the community overall. Both patients and device operators have reported statistically significant improvements in satisfaction levels with pathology service delivery following the introduction of POC testing for chronic and acute diseases. Point-of-care testing can assist in improving patient outcomes as a result of the treating practitioner taking immediate action on the POC test result. Point-of-care testing fosters and builds a strong sense of community engagement by ensuring that the patient is the central focus of the pathology service being delivered and by empowering the health service to have greater ownership and control of the way its pathology service and resultant health information is managed. As POC testing is implemented, progressive knowledge transfer and capacity building are critical to ensure the community is empowered with the resources to manage and sustain the program in the long term. Building community capacity to undertake quality-ensured POC testing for routine patient care has flow-on benefits in terms of resilience, preparedness, and response in disaster scenarios.
From Flinders University International Centre for Point-of-Care Testing, Flinders University, Bedford Park, South Australia.
Reprints: Mark Shephard, PhD, Flinders University International Centre for Point-of-Care Testing, Sturt Campus, West Wing, Level 3, Flinders University, Bedford Park, South Australia 5042. E-mail: Mark.Shephard@flinders.edu.au.
Support was also received from the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing which funds the Quality Assurance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Medical Services Program.
The author’s unit receives research support from Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics.