Point of Care Technologies (PoC): Future and Benefits in Healthcare IT

Point of Care Technologies (PoC): Future and Benefits in Healthcare IT
The healthcare industry is undergoing several changes at the moment. Currently, it is focussing on improving patient outcomes and adopting electronic patient records. After going through an evolution, the healthcare industry is driven by technology. Right from gadgets to advanced interventions, like tailored medicines and regrowing damaged body parts, technology is used in the delivery of healthcare and life-saving procedures. 

Point-of-care technology, or Clinical point of care, is the set of technology used at the location of patient care to improve healthcare outcomes. It is the point in time when clinicians deliver services to patients at the time of care. Urine dipsticks, rapid strep tests, and blood glucose monitors are the best and the common examples of PoCT. 

According to consumer products research, PoCT has shown strong growth in recent years. The use of the technology is driven by healthcare emphasis shifting towards precision treatment and chronic disease management. Point-of-care technology adds efficiency in healthcare delivery and provides important information to clinicians based on patient care. 

Let us understand and know what its significance is in the healthcare sector. 

What is Point-of-Care Testing?

Point of-care testing or Clinical point of care allows medical professionals and clinicians to achieve real-time results within minutes. With the help of blood analyzers, testing at the point of care streamlines the process and ensures patients receive the best care when needed. 

Furthermore, it also allows medical professionals to make treatment decisions when diagnosing a patient’s condition for the treatment purpose. With the testing process, the users can improve productivity and procedures and comply with performance mandates. Point-of-care technology is what it sounds like. 

A patient’s blood glucose level is the best example of a point-of-care test. Blood glucose levels can be checked at any time based on the patient's convenience. Recent advances have expanded the capabilities of POC testing systems. 

Besides offering a menu of tests, devices can share the results wirelessly for a physician’s review. Also, several systems are being designed with advanced features to help hospitals in managing their POC testing programs. 

Benefits of Point-Of-Care Testing

Here are the benefits of POC within a healthcare setting: 

1. It can be done rapidly and could be performed by personnel who are not trained in laboratory sciences. 
2. Rapid test results can provide a physician with answers that could quickly help in finding the treatment for the patient. 
3. POC can eliminate the need for transporting the specimen to the laboratory and sharing results with the clinical staff. 
4. These methods require smaller sample volumes in comparison to those needed for traditional laboratory testing. 
5. It can also help reduce the frequency of testing errors while meeting the testing protocols and patient misidentification. 
6. PoCT devices maintain patient data in digital format and help nurses with quick access to patient information. The paper documentation involves manual charts, whereas digital format allows access to smart graphics and saves time. 
7. The speed at which clinicians receive an answer, provides the treatment, and executes a plan is increased with PoCT. 
8. The technologies used to test the point of care technologies have provided ease to use handheld devices that would integrate health applications within a facility. 
9. This provides a Quality Assurance (QA) environment for data exchange and ensures that the patient data is updated and is available to healthcare professionals. 
10. The software used in the technology also provides analysis-based results without the need for training the staff about interpretive science. 
11. PoCT is performed by individuals providing care to patients to help in decreasing analytical errors due to the transmission of test results. 
12. A delay in face-to-face patient care could cause errors in treatment. Clinicians can document the information when needed while contributing to increased patient safety. 

Benefits of Point of Care Tech Outside a Healthcare Setting

Monitoring devices provide advanced care, mobile monitoring, and details of drugs to patients. These devices can vary from health monitoring of statistics to periodic testing. The healthcare staff could perform remote tests and could share those results back with the professionals. 

Professionals like nurses and physicians can check those results over time to determine if the changes in treatment plans are necessary to determine the success of the plan. Also, the devices that patients wear could record, report, and administer drugs. For instance, insulin pumps provide better control over blood sugar levels. 

Future of PoCT

The evolving healthcare industry has led to increased investments in research and development in PoCT. According to reports, the growth of PoCT is expected to surpass $30 billion in 2020. The devices are becoming popular, as the point-of-care tests offer on-time patient care. With the strategies for clinical assessment, future PoCTs may affect healthcare and related outcomes. 

There is also the potential in point-of-care devices for potential patients. This maximizes the desired health impact at the population level. However, the impact of PoCT on healthcare has a long way to go. 

Clinical Documentation

It is a record of the critical thinking and judgment of professionals, facilitating effective communication among clinicians. Documentation performed at the point of care is conducted using electronic formats. The process captures medical information associated with a patient's healthcare needs. 

The health record is a legal document that includes the reports of the patient’s progress. These documents provide ethical care for healthcare professionals. Also, these accurate documents provide a foundation for quality of care analysis that can facilitate better results for patients. 

Traditional Approach

The major responsibility of healthcare professionals like nurses is to transfer information about the patient’s record to other healthcare professionals. Earlier, it was done verbally. 

Today, with the help of technology, verbal communication has faded. Healthcare professionals have witnessed this change and are using the latest technologies to communicate information. This technology is making a strong impact in the decision-making process and also benefits in several ways. 

Electronic Documentation 

POC allows clinicians to document information while interacting and delivering care to patients. The use of Electronic Health Records (EHR) in the healthcare field creates the need for electronic POC documentation through medical devices. POC Documentation reduces the time spent on documentation and gives more time for patient care. 

Devices Used in Point of Care Tech

Several technologies like PDAs, tablets, and laptops allow documentation at the point of care. To ensure successful implementation: it is crucial to know the limitations and benefits of each device. For instance, tablets are used for complex data entry and can run complex functions. 

Limitations of Point of Care in Healthcare

While the point of care tech offers several benefits in healthcare, it also has certain limitations. 

1. Point of care documentation produces data redundancies and irregularities. Electronic formats are time-consuming. Several issues also waste time and increase costs. According to a study, qualitative and quantitative methods have confirmed complexities in point-of-care documentation. 

2. When examining any technology in healthcare, it is crucial to remember that technology holds health information. Security measures should also be kept in mind to minimize the risk of privacy and patient confidentiality. 

Final Words 

Point of Care also involves diagnostic tests that are not done in the laboratory. This kind of testing is performed when the patient is nearby. This testing has made it possible for health professionals to take instant and critical care decisions. 

It significantly reduces the time that passes between tests and the arrival of results. Point of care diagnostics tests are easy to use and should be used by qualified professionals. 
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