print   Print full article In the previous sections we have demonstrated some of the features of PoCT and some of the reasons why it has been developed and why it is used.

However, as well as advantages there are also disadvantages which all those involved with PoCT including consumers and patients need to be aware of before they use this type of testing. Another way to think about advantages and disadvantages is to consider the benefits of PoCT to you as a consumer and the risks.  As well as what PoCT means for you  it is also important to consider the benefits and risks for your healthcare provider, such as your GP, for the government and ultimately, the community that funds the testing.

The risks and benefits vary according to the specific test but in Table 2 we consider these benefits and risks of PoCT in general.

Table 2. Advantages and disadvantages of PoCT for different groups and explanations
Affected Group Advantages of PoCT Explanation

Patient
Convenience The testing and consultation including possible treatment, takes place in the same visit – known as Test & Treat
  Better access to testing This overlaps with the above advantage but not everyone lives close to a pathology testing service, particularly those in the rural and remote sectors of the country; PoCT either at the GP or possibly a pharmacy might be closer than a pathology collection centre
  Clinical benefits The clinical benefits vary with the particular test but they can include:
  • Quicker diagnosis or exclusion of diagnosis
  • More appropriate treatment
  • Improved treatment outcomes
Healthcare Provider  e.g. GP Improved patient management Your GP will want to manage your healthcare to their best ability; for some, PoCT of certain tests can help them do this, particularly when they need test results relatively quickly. Thus, GPs operating in the rural and remote sectors are keen to access PoCT.
  Improved GP practice management Many GPs believe that having PoCT will bring efficiency benefits to their practice which in turn will lead to service improvements to patients

Government/ Healthcare Funder
Economic benefits from healthier patients Some of the above advantages for consumers and healthcare providers can bring economic and other benefits to the community.
 
Affected Group Disadvantages of PocT Explanation
Patient Cost PoCT always costs more than the comparable laboratory test. This is unlikely to change and will ensure that PoCT will only be possible for specific tests where the benefits that we have described above can be translated into sufficient economic value to fund the cost of PoCT.
This means that as a patient you may have to pay for PoCT
 
Healthcare provider e.g. GP Cost GPs and other healthcare providers have to fund PoCT because it is not reimbursed via the Medical Benefits Schedule. The costs of testing can be significant.
 
Government/Healthcare Funder Cost To date, the Government has not reimbursed PoCT because the economic benefits have not been sufficient to justify the extra cost of testing. This could change in the future.
Patient and Healthcare provider e.g. GP Poor Quality devices While regulations and processes called accreditation ensure that laboratories meet certain standards the same is not true yet for PoCT devices and testing.
Not all PoCT devices that are available for purchase are of a quality that is suitable for patient care.
However, there is growing awareness of this risk with more PoCT providers only using devices that have been evaluated to be suitable for patient management.
 
Healthcare provider e.g. GP Management of PoCT PoCT is not just the process of placing your blood sample on a test strip or cartridge and measuring the result. While many PoCT devices are relatively simple to use, the process of testing has to be managed to check that the device is producing the correct result. This requires several processes which are best managed by a dedicated PoCT operator such as a practice nurse. Their time to perform PoCT and its impact on the operation of the healthcare provider’s practice has to be accounted for in the overall practice management.
 



 

Last Review Date: June 29, 2020