Diagnostics, laboratory systems

European point-of-care testing market boosted by clinical and cost advantages

19 Sept 2006

London, UK. Point-of-care testing (POCT) offers multiple benefits, particularly in improving turnabout time (TAT) and in supporting the prescription of earlier and more appropriate treatment. Moreover, POCT fits in with the way healthcare delivery is likely to evolve — one that promotes enhanced quality of care and encourages patients to be more involved in their own disease management.

Frost & Sullivan has found that the European Point of Care Testing Market earned revenues of US$754.4 million in 2005 and estimates this will reach US$1558.2 million in 2012.

"POCT can better satisfy customer needs with the introduction of new diagnostics," says Frost & Sullivan Team Leader of Clinical Diagnostics, Dr. Fiona Rahman. "These diagnostics boost patients' confidence through the way in which problems are handled with on-the-spot testing being used to not only diagnose and monitor diseases, but also to implement programmes designed to prevent the onset of a disease."

The growing use of POCT will support accelerated results and faster diagnosis, thereby enabling treatment for many conditions to begin more rapidly. It will, moreover, lessen the strain on resources in secondary care, resulting in reduced outpatient clinic time, which benefits both the parties involved.

"Governments throughout Europe are seeking to provide more alternatives to centralised testing, while encouraging the devolution of control to primary care and placing greater emphasis on the prediction and prevention of disease," says Dr. Rahman. "The significance of these factors for the diagnostics industry, providers and suppliers, is that POCT is expected to increase in the number of tests conducted, the array of analytes and available locations for testing in the coming years."

However, it is inevitable that there will be concerns about higher costs, as tests designed for use in POC will be more expensive than laboratory-based ones. Health services need to overcome these cost issues through a more holistic approach that identifies the potential long-term savings to be made. These will include reducing the costs associated with unwanted or inappropriate therapy, sample transport to hospital laboratories, patient transport to the hospital, unnecessary occupation of a bed, the extra costs of out-of-hours services and unnecessary appointments.

"Senior physicians are sceptical about implementing these new technologies and continue to use ineffective traditional methods of diagnoses, which are cheaper without validation and scientific support," explains Dr. Rahman. "With these end-users reluctant to experiment with POC tests, which are essential to complement more traditional diagnostic methods, the challenge for manufacturers will be to offer cost-effective POC tests that will encourage end users to experiment and adopt POC tests as routine diagnosis".

Over the next decade, the healthcare sector will significantly increase in importance as physicians take on greater responsibility for early diagnostic triage, disease management and preventative medicine.

"The aim will be to make POCT available to everyone and increase its adoption by the medical community," says Dr. Rahman. "By identifying the key tasks and opportunities and by promoting educational programmes that encourage diagnosis and close monitoring of diagnosed patients as well as undiagnosed sufferers, the immense potential of the European POCT diagnostics market can be leveraged."

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