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If your GP or another healthcare provider such as a pharmacist offers you a test using point-of-care testing, here are some questions that you might like to ask to help you decide on whether to proceed or not.

1. What type of sample do you collect for PoCT?

Background: One of the advantages of PoCT is that it usually uses a finger-prick sample taken with a device called a lancet. While more convenient than collecting a venous blood sample using a needle and syringe, it does require some skill to ensure that the sample is collected correctly. There may be occasional circumstances when a venous sample is required and some tests may require a urine or even a nasal sample.

2. Is the quality of the PoCT testing you are offering sufficient to make safe and effective clinical decisions about my healthcare?
Background: Not all PoCT devices that are available for use in Australia are of sufficient quality to make safe and effective clinical decisions. Organisations and processes are in place to try and ensure that GPs and other healthcare providers only use devices of proven performance. But the reality is that there are currently no regulations to ensure that only devices with a minimum required performance are used on patients. This situation will change and already many providers are using reliable, proved devices.

3. Do you perform quality procedures to make sure the point-of-care results are reliable and accurate?

Background: The central pathology laboratory devotes a lot of resources to ensuring that the quality of lab testing is very high, meaning that your test results are reliable and accurate. The quality processes used with PoCT are different, possibly not so extensive as in the central laboratory, but are certainly necessary. At the moment there are no regulations in place to ensure that quality processes must accompany all PoCT. It is likely that such regulations will be introduced as PoCT expands and many PoCT providers are already using quality processes to ensure the testing is safe.

4. Will the test results from a point-of-care test go into my medical record?

Background: When your tests are performed in a central laboratory the results are in most cases transmitted electronically back to your GP and into your medical record which sits on the GPs computer. In some cases the results may be uploaded into your My Health Record. With PoCT this electronic transmission of results will likely not occur and there will need to be a manual process of entering the results into your patient record. It is important that all your testing results are retained in the record to ensure that the correct decisions are made about your treatment.

Another example of PoCT results not getting into your patient record is if have testing performed at the pharmacy and the results are only provided to you on a paper report which you will have to take to your GP.

5. Will I have to pay for PoCT?

Background: At the present time PoCT is not reimbursed on the Medical Benefits Schedule (MBS). GPs may be able to use a separate MBS item number to pay for a portion of the testing. They may choose to absorb the remainder of the cost themselves or they may ask you as the patient to pay a fee. Any testing in pharmacies is likely to mean that you the patent pay although some of these charges may be reimbursed via private health insurance. Efforts are being made to include PoCT on the MBS but this has not yet been agreed.


Last Review Date: June 29, 2020