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The continued evolution of PCR diagnostics into the community

James Beckett explains how the use of molecular point-of-care testing (POCT) has seen exponential growth in recent years, from its hospital-based origins to its widespread community use for detection of infections, sexual health screening and, more recently, respiratory disease diagnosis during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Healthcare systems throughout the world face challenges in delivering effective, accessible and affordable care to an increasingly elderly population with a rising incidence of complex comorbidities. Successful care requires the provision of high quality, proactive interventions within primary and secondary care settings to limit unnecessary hospital admissions.1 As a result, many POCT technologies have been repurposed or developed to improve the convenience and efficiency of the patient care pathway outside of conventional hospital settings.

The evolution of point of care testing

Diagnostic testing performed in a hospital laboratory setting can lead to unavoidable delays in results, potentially extending the duration of hospital stays, and increasing the cost of care and risk of disease transmission between patients. POCT or near-patient testing has existed in hospital settings for many years, with routine diagnostic tests – such as urine testing or blood gas analyses – performed at or close to the patient’s bedside.2 However, for more complex diagnostic assays, including molecular testing, biological samples traditionally needed to be transported to a laboratory for analysis. The logistics of this, combined with the potential demand on central laboratory workflows, could cause delays in the turnaround of results, leading to suboptimal or postponed treatments. 

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Upcoming Events

Digital Pathology & AI Congress: Europe

The Intercontinental London Hotel, The O2, London SE10 0TW
7-8 December

POCT Innovators: The Power to Disrupt Series

Cloth Hall Court, Leeds. UK
20 March, 2024

USCAP 113th Annual Meeting

Baltimore Convention Center, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
23-28 March, 2024

ECCMID 2024 - European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases

Fira Gran Via, 08038 Barcelona, Spain
27-30 April 2024

British Society for Microbial Technology Annual Microbiology Conference

Royal Air Force Museum, Hendon, London
2 May 2024

Access the latest issue of Pathology In Practice on your mobile device together with an archive of back issues.

Download the FREE Pathology In Practice app from your device's App store

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