Bedside point-of-care tests speed up care, improve outcomes

To improve healthcare delivery and cut down on outcomes disparities, hospitals must increase their use of bedside point-of-care (POC) testing, according to Executive Insight.

POC testing allows providers to make diagnoses in varied settings in which the patient is present, such as doctors' offices, ambulances, hospitals or at home, and holds the advantage of significantly speeding up the care process without hurting care quality, according to the article.

"Assuming its reliable, easy-to-use POC technology allows the pace of healthcare to happen more quickly," David Kaelber, M.D., chief medical informatics officer at MetroHealth in Cleveland, told Executive Insight. "In general, that's good because it should lead to quicker interventions, which leads to decreased lengths of stay in the hospital and avoiding hospitalizations or emergency department visits."

But the bar for reliability and accuracy is high, Kaelber warned, telling the publication that it must be near 100 percent. A figure such as 80 percent might seem reliable in a vacuum, he said, but a pregnancy test with 80 percent accuracy would not be nearly reliable enough. Indeed, inaccurate diagnostic testing is a major driver of healthcare costs and unnecessary procedures, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

In a recent fact sheet, the National Institutes of Health endorsed the further development of POC testing technology to make it easier for non-specialists to deliver such care. Increased use of miniaturization and patient-centered care will allow providers to personalize POC testing to individual patients.

However, Sarah Brown, associate medical director for the core laboratory at St. Louis Children's Hospital, warned Executive Insight of persistent connectivity issues that remain before POC technology is ready for widespread use. Bedside POC testing means there is not necessarily a lab professional on hand, she said, creating a "gap in interpretation" that healthcare has not yet bridged.

To learn more:
- read the article
- here's the NIH fact sheet