Point of Care Testing: Benefits for Patients and Providers
What is Point of Care Testing?
Pharmacies are commonly associated with one thing: prescription medicine. But as we know, they are an important part of the healthcare journey. Pharmacies provide a number of additional services including point of care testing (POCT). This allows us to give A1C, lipid, strep, influenza, and now Covid-19 tests to our patients. POCT provides fast and reliable test results for a variety of illnesses and disorders. They occur at the convenience of the patient, such as when picking up prescriptions. This allows healthcare providers to make timely decisions about the needs of their patients.
Prior to the test, an intake form is filled out by the patient providing information such as demographics, contact information for their primary care provider, medications allergies, and disease states. After results are obtained, the pharmacist counsels the patient on the results and advises them on the next steps whether it involves a follow-up test, change in medication recommendations, or lifestyle changes. Results are usually produced in as little as 5-15 minutes. An e-care plan is then generated and recommendations/results are submitted to the provider.
POCT Patient Benefits
As mentioned, POCT in pharmacies provides greater convenience to the patient. Consistent and greater access to testing can lead to better health results. Additionally, how the test is administered is less invasive. Many patients prefer blood to be taken from a finger prick rather than a needle in their arm. Pharmacies also provide an affordable alternative to a lab or a hospital.
Patients don't necessarily need to have a concurring illness to benefit from POCT. Routine monitoring can help increase patient understanding and motivation, better control, and practice efficiency.
See how all of these factors can help improve patient health outcomes:
A1C & Lipid Testing
A1C & lipid testing are commonly performed to measure diabetes health and cholesterol. Only 26.7% of patients diagnosed with diabetes meet targets for glycemic, blood pressure, or cholesterol control. Patients who are managed in compliance with guidelines were over 5 times more likely to achieve an A1C <7%. These guidelines include regular A1C testing 2-4 times yearly. Testing compliance is poor due to:
Provider time constraints
Data becoming lost to the lab
Lower socioeconomic status
By offering these tests, ClearSpring Pharmacy gives patients another avenue to improve compliance and reach healthier outcomes.
Strep, Influenza, & Covid-19 Testing
Symptoms such as sore throats, headaches, and fevers are common in many different illnesses. Though the symptoms are similar, the remedy will vary depending on the sickness. Point of care testing gives the context needed to properly treat the patient. Identifying the illness and whether it is a virus or bacteria will lead the way to an effective treatment regimen that can be provided in the pharmacy by the pharmacist.
POCT Provider Benefits
By providing POCT, we are giving providers a little more breathing room when treating their patients. They will have one less thing on their to-do list. This will enable them to focus on treatment and receive fast and accurate results to work with. As mentioned, POCT testing will lead to better health outcomes, and who doesn't want that for their patients? All signs point to yes, and providers will benefit from having happier, healthier patients.
Point of Care Testing at ClearSpring Pharmacy
Clearspring Pharmacy implemented a POCT program over 2 years ago performing A1C, lipid, strep, influenza, and now Covid-19 testing. As a pharmacy manager at Clearspring Pharmacy, I completed the Pharmacy-Based Point-of-Care Testing Certificate Program through NCAP in order to grow our POCT program. We are also working on setting up collaborative practice agreements with nearby physicians in order to make changes/additions to the patient’s medication regimens based on their test results.
Really, POCT revolves around one central theme: convenience. Patients in the healthcare marketplace are not unlike any other consumer, they want what they want when they want it. And it is up to us to give it to them. As we move forward and continue to see positive results in our clients, we will look to increase its POCT offerings in the future.