Early detection of diseases is often cited as being of crucial importance for a patient’s survival and to reduce the risk of serious complications. To benefit from earlier detection, the diagnostic and therapeutic processes need to be accelerated. One way to do this is with the use of point-of-care testing (POCT), a test that supports clinical decision making, which can be performed nearby the patient. It is typically performed during or very close to the time of consultation with results available in minutes. When appropriately utilized, POCT can improve healthcare delivery by providing test results more rapidly, allowing treatment decisions to be made earlier, and eliminates the need for individuals to transfer to another location for (laboratory) testing.

Point-of-care testing (POCT) has been proven to be beneficial for different applications (monitoring, screening, diagnosis) in several settings. In primary care, healthcare providers can make medical decisions almost immediately, without having to wait for test results from a central laboratory. It also makes monitoring patients easier, allowing healthcare providers to change medication on the spot. In countries where the distance to and between medical facilities are quite large, POCT can prevent delay and discomfort. In secondary care, POCT has resulted in shorter waiting time for results, earlier discharge, and a decreased length of stay, which is especially useful in hospitals running over capacity. In low-resource countries with poor infrastructure, the low cost, ease of use, and swiftness of POCT has been especially beneficial to allow diagnosis, screening, and monitoring of infectious diseases, since access to hospitals and laboratories are limited. Furthermore, it has also been showed that patient satisfaction increases when POCT is used.


Evaluations ranged from POC tests used by healthcare professionals to prevent unnecessary treatment and referrals to the emergency room where the rapid diagnosis allows patients to be discharged more quickly. Further value is added by POCT through increased patient satisfaction and overall improvement in care provision. In addition to these benefits, the implementation of POCT may also have a negative impact; for example, an increase in costs, increased labor requirements, and alterations to the processes and workflow. These aspects could discourage GPs and care providers from implementing POCT in their practice.

The implementation and utilization of POC tests will not be reliant on technical advancements alone, but also on the changes in costing systems and reimbursement practices. Health system resources are limited, and it is essential to ensure that the resources allocated to diagnostics, such as POC tests, are optimized. Health economic evaluations are often conducted to contribute to and inform on such decisions. 

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