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and vice-versa enables clinicians to integrate patient results and records quickly and easily, saving time and improving traceability.




Martyn Lewis, Head of Marketing and

APAC Sales Director at EKF Diagnostics, discusses the future of the UK

Point-of-Care Testing market and its role alongside central laboratories.

A frequent debate we hear at EKF Diagnostics is the role that point-of-care testing (POCT) can play in clinical laboratories. Are the benefits to patients and healthcare systems as tangible as POC developers, such as ourselves, suggest they are? Is POCT a threat, or is it complementary to lab analysis?

It could be argued that the most successful application of POCT is achieved through true collaboration with clinical labs. So it ought to be of little surprise that there are a number of new developments within the POCT sector that are helping to make this a reality:

CONNECTIVITY The movement by all major POCT manufacturers to provide connected devices is helping to provide a joined- up approach to patient management. The ability to feed data from POCT into laboratory information systems (LIS)

28 | Tomorrow’s Laboratories

QUALITY CONTROL Standards within POCT have improved a great deal from the hit and miss of the 1990s and 2000s, helped by organisations such as the AACC (American Association for Clinical Chemistry) and IFCC (International Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine). In recent years, the POCT industry, especially within diabetes, has seen standards tighten further. This has placed demands on developers to embark on a process of continual improvement to ensure that they can deliver data that stands up to scrutiny and removes one of the barriers towards integration into a laboratory’s portfolio. The increasing availability of connectivity is also playing its part here to improve POC standards with the added control over mandatory Quality Control procedures and user ID lockouts.

MINIATURISATION One of the primary product benefits of POCT is the portable nature of the analysers and the tests. This trend can provide complimentary patient benefits over a healthcare system reliant solely on central laboratory testing. Small, hand-held devices mean that the patient no longer has to visit the medical setting. This not only has practical uses in rural communities, but also in busy, developed economies where some patient groups can be hard to reach during their daily routines. The logical next step of miniaturisation is wearable technology – the watches released by Apple and Pebble are the latest in a line of technology to come loaded with functionality that hints at a mobile future for healthcare and diagnostics.

PATIENT-FOCUSED SOLUTIONS This covers a multitude of areas but is essentially focused on pro-active patient health monitoring, putting the patient and their needs at the heart of the development process. Whether it is the ability to deliver an accurate result instantly in the GP surgery or the ability to check your HbA1c levels at the local pharmacy – or at home patient friendly innovations help to alleviate pressures on central laboratory workloads. Expect to see more developments in POCT that complement the traditional forms of diagnostic testing.

POCT is continuing to evolve. Each evolution brings with it new levels of innovation that help the medical profession keep pace with the changes in people’s lifestyles and personal health. The combination of connected health solutions, affordable technology and low cost testing that POCT offers is potent, but to be truly effective POCT will always need to offer a service that sits comfortably alongside the central laboratory.

EKF manufactures point-of-care analysers for use in HbA1c, haemoglobin, glucose and lactate measurement, and also has a portfolio of clinical chemistry reagents and laboratory analysers.

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