Point-of-Care Testing: Coming to a Pharmacy Near You? Maybe

JUNE 06, 2018
Jeannette Y. Wick, RPh, MBA, FASCP
Point-of-care testing (POCT; tests performed outside of the laboratory, wherever patients are) increase patients' access to care and treatment. In 2 areas—influenza and streptococcal pharyngitis—POCT is available, but not used as often as it could be. Annually, individuals in the United States contract 9.2 to 60.8 million cases of influenza and 11,000 to 13,000 cases of group A streptococcal pharyngitis. And older Americans contract an unacceptable number of cases of group B streptococcal pharyngitis.

Caught early, these infections can be treated and complications can be avoided. Might this be an area in which community pharmacists can expand their scope of practice, and embrace public health? It could be, if pharmacists are ready, willing, and able.

Researchers from Tennessee sent an anonymous electronic questionnaire to 379 pharmacists employed by a large national supermarket chain pharmacy in western Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas. Their intent was to determine pharmacists' willingness to perform influenza and streptococcus pharyngitis POCT, and recommend or provide treatment.

Among the 39% of survey recipients who responded, 69% either strongly agreed or agreed to be willing to perform POCT in a community pharmacy setting. More respondents—86%—either strongly agreed or agreed to be willing to recommend appropriate treatment for influenza and streptococcal pharyngitis, indicating they had the knowledge and skills to do so. A large majority indicated their staff could be trained to assist with these services.

Previous study suggests that nurse practitioners and physicians may overprescribe antibiotics for upper respiratory infections. The researchers suggest that using POCT in community pharmacies could reduce the likelihood of inappropriate antibiotic use. 

Two-thirds of respondents indicated that they could see implementation barriers. Most common barriers were lack of resources or training, no established payment method, facility constraints, and lack of patient and provider awareness of the service.

This survey, published in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, indicates that pharmacists can provide influenza and streptococcal pharyngitis POCT if barriers are addressed.  


Reference

Dulaney K, Hohmeier K, Fisher C, Cardosi L, Wasson M. Exploring pharmacists' perceptions regarding influenza and streptococcal testing within a chain pharmacy. J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2018 Apr 21. pii: S1544-3191(18)30131-6. doi:10.1016/j.japh.2018.03.004. [Epub ahead of print]
 

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