As the contribution of point-of-care testing (POCT) continues to gain traction in response to value-based care, its oversight has proven to be complex and challenging. In order to gain the full benefit that POCT offers to improve patient outcomes, programs need to be well-managed and standardized across a healthcare organization (HCO). The knowledge base of laboratory professionals makes them well-suited to oversee POCT to ensure its quality, and simultaneously can increase their visibility and overall contribution to the care team.
Reasons for an Increased Demand for POCT
The steady shift to value-based, patient-centered care is changing the way providers utilize POCT. POCT’s rapid turnaround offers an opportunity for immediate care decisions that are beneficial in value-based care. Faster clinical decision-making can improve patient outcomes and reduce overall spending, which are two main goals of a value-based system. In addition, POCT can help increase patient understanding and engagement.
Challenges Inherent to POCT Oversight
Yet, management of POCT is a complex process that makes its implementation difficult. POCT takes place in many different settings and across different healthcare scenarios, making it difficult to control from a central lab. In a large HCO, POCT may involve dozens of testing locations, hundreds of disparate devices with varying capabilities, and thousands of non-laboratory trained end users.
Knowledge Base of Laboratory Professionals Aligns with POCT
The complexity of POCT oversight calls for its standardization and careful management to achieve quality results. The rise in importance and demand for POCT presents an opportunity for laboratory professionals to reevaluate their role in value-based care.
Whereas in the past, laboratory professionals may have avoided responsibility for managing POCT programs, this new perspective opens the door for medical laboratory scientists (MLSs) to partner with providers to implement and support an effective POCT program.
Clinical laboratory professionals have the laboratory testing knowledge needed to ensure that POCT is implemented in the most opportune places and that test results meet the quality standards of conventional laboratory testing. Laboratory oversight of POCT creates an opportunity for laboratory professionals to use their expertise to help improve patient care and to gain greater respect as part of the healthcare team. MLSs can act as consultants and educators, improving their visibility and status as valuable resources in healthcare. Laboratory professionals need to become involved and engaged in the management of POCT in order to showcase the laboratory’s contribution to the healthcare team and to increase the “value-add” of the laboratory.
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