The state of point-of-care testing: a european perspective
Point-of-care testing (POCT) refers to any diagnostic test administered outside the central laboratory at or near the location of the patient. By performing the sample collection and data analysis steps in the same location POCT cuts down on transport and processing delays, resulting in the rapid feedback of test results to medical decision-makers. Over the past decades the availability and use of POCT have steadily increased in Europe and throughout the international community. However, concerns about overall utility and the reliability of benefits to patient care have impeded the growth of POCT in some areas. While there is no agreed-upon standard for how success should be judged, the increases in speed and mobility provided by POCT can lead to substantial advantages over traditional laboratory testing. When properly utilized, POCT has been shown to yield measurable improvements in patient care, workflow efficiency, and even provide significant financial benefits. However, important organizational and quality assurance challenges must be addressed with the implementation of POCT in any health care environment. To ensure maximal benefits it may be necessary to evaluate critically and restructure existing clinical pathways to capitalize better on the rapid test turnaround times provided by POCT.
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