The effective treatment of many chronic diseases in primary care relies on patients undergoing regular blood tests, but patient adherence with this process has been shown to be suboptimal. Point-of-care testing, whereby timely pathology results can be obtained on-site at the time of patient consultation, has the potential to improve patient outcomes in various ways, one of which is to ensure that blood tests are collected at the required times. However, to accommodate this potential, innovation and change may be required in how primary care operates.
Three primary care practices with differing clinic and population characteristics were assessed by recording of the patient workflow of patients with type 2 diabetes in each site. Staff and patients in each practice were then questioned about workflow and their views on the potential impact of point-of-care testing implementation.
The workflows at the 3 practices were complex as they sought to encourage patient compliance with pathology testing. Of the staff questioned, 80% saw the implementation of point-of-care testing as a way of improving patient outcomes and reducing the complexity of the workflow in primary care, with the highest percentage of staff suggesting this from the lower socioeconomic areas and higher need populations.
Despite complex workflow routines, compliance with laboratory testing remained suboptimal. Although point-of-care testing was seen as a way to improve practice workflows and increase staff efficiency, there remain some barriers to implementation that could be reduced by better staff understanding of the technology.
From the *School of Medicine Sydney, The University of Notre Dame Australia, Darlinghurst, New South Wales; †Inala Primary Care, Inala, Queensland; and ‡Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia Quality Assurance Programs, St Leonards, New South Wales, Australia.
Reprints: Niamh Ramsay, BBioMedSci(Hons), School of Medicine, The University of Notre Dame Australia, 160 Oxford St, Darlinghurst, NSW 2010, Australia. E-mail: Niamh.firstname.lastname@example.org.
The authors declare no conflict of interest.