Point-of-care testing allows diagnoses in a physician’s office, an ambulance, the home, the field or in the hospital. The results of care are timely and allow rapid treatment to the patient.

Current developments in point-of-care testing are addressing the challenges of diagnosis and treatment of cancer, stroke and cardiac patients.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), empowering clinicians to make decisions at the point-of-care has the potential to significantly impact healthcare delivery and to address the challenges of health disparities. “The success of a potential shift from curative medicine, to predictive, personalised, and pre-emptive medicine could rely on the development of portable diagnostic and monitoring devices for point-of-care testing.”

The emphasis of care is shifting toward prevention and early detection of disease, as well as management of multiple chronic conditions. Point-of-care testing gives immediate results in non-laboratory settings to support more patient-centred approaches to healthcare delivery.

The NIH supports the development of sensor and microsystem and low-cost imaging technologies for point-of-care testing. Sensor technologies enable the rapid analysis of blood samples for several critical care assays, including blood chemistry, electrolytes, blood gases and haematology.

Biosensors are used clinically for toxicology and drug screens, measurement of blood cells and blood coagulations, bedside diagnosis of heart disease through detection of cardiac markers in the blood and glucose self-testing.

Current developments in point-of-care testing are addressing the challenges of diagnosis and treatment of cancer, stroke and cardiac patients.

Researchers supported by National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) have developed a unique microfluidic device capable of efficient separation of circulating tumour cells from whole blood. This technology has broad implications both for advancing cancer biology research and for the clinical management of cancer, including detection, diagnosis and monitoring.

The future

With the development of miniaturised devices and wireless communication, the way in which doctors care for patients will change dramatically and the role patients take in their own health care will increase. Health care will become more personalised through tailoring of interventions to individual patients.

The next decade will bring a new realm of precision and efficiency to the way information is transmitted and interpreted, and the way medicine is practiced.

Low-cost diagnostic imaging devices can be used at the point-of-patient care for disadvantaged and under-served populations. The development of low-cost imaging devices could make affordable diagnostic imaging more widely available, particularly in remote or rural communities and small hospitals that do not have ready access to these technologies.

A new method using an optical probe for cervical cancer detection and treatment could significantly lower the mortality rate worldwide. Combining a small optical imaging device with a treatment modality could provide both diagnosis and treatment of cervical cancer at the same time.

Source: The National Institutes of Health