What’s the Definition of “Point of Care Testing?”

The phrase “point of care testing” is used often in healthcare, but what does it mean? What does it include?  Kamlesh Khunti, a Professor of Primary Care Diabetes and Vascular Medicine at the University of Leicester says in his publication:

“Near-patient testing (also known as point-of-care testing) is defined as an investigation taken at the time of the consultation with instant availability of results to make immediate and informed decisions about patient care…”

One thing most can agree on is that point of care happens as close to the patient as possible.  This is usually in an effort to diagnose and treat a patient in the fastest manner possible.  Traditionally, diagnostic testing has occurred in a complex laboratory.  Many manufacturers and healthcare practitioners have been pushing for decades to decentralize some of this testing, and bring the testing and the diagnoses closer to the patient.  This is all in an effort to improve care and patient outcomes.


Where is POCT Done?

Point of Care testing can be at the bedside, or near the patient.  The most general way to think about POCT is that it’s any testing performed in a healthcare setting that’s not done in the lab.

This implies that POCT can be performed in the following settings:

  • Hospitals
  • Urgent Care Clinics
  • General Practitioner’s Offices
  • Retail Clinics

Why is it Important?

The move to bring testing closer to the patient is ongoing.  The thinking is that the quicker the diagnosis, the better the healthcare outcomes.  That being said, there is a balance between quick diagnoses and accurate, reliable results.  It’s critical that healthcare professionals understand the importance of sensitivity, specificity, accuracy and precision.

What are some good resources for more on POC and POCT?

See this post for some top recommendations for more.