Providing Point-of-Care Testing Improves Patient Care, Antimicrobial Stewardship

Aislinn Antrim, Associate Editor

In addition to improving health care access for patients, point-of-care testing in pharmacies can drive customer demand and satisfaction.

Point-of-care testing in pharmacies has become increasingly important during the COVID-19 pandemic, as patients searched for accessible testing for infectious diseases as well as routine tests.

A session at the Pharmacy Development Services (PDS) 2021 conference explored why point-of-care testing is essential and how it offers pharmacists an opportunity to better care for their patients. As the most accessible entry point for patients in the health care system, presenter Megan Wimmer, WW manager of health economics and outcomes research at Becton, Dickinson and Co, said pharmacists have seen the potential of point-of-care testing in their communities.

Wimmer outlined several important reasons for point-of-care testing, including improved health care access for patients and the fact that testing can help support and explain prescribing decisions. Research has also shown that testing drives customer demand and satisfaction, in addition to helping reduce unnecessary antibiotics and antimicrobial resistance, Wimmer said.

In an example of the ways that point-of-care testing can improve patient access to care, Wimmer discussed an example of a group A streptococcal (group A strep) testing program. A pharmacy implemented a simple rubric to evaluate patient risk for group A strep, and if patients scored a 1 or higher, they received a point-of-care test. Negative test results were managed with an OTC medication, whereas positive results were treated with an appropriate antibiotic.

According to Wimmer, 278 of the 316 patients screened for group A strep in the program were deemed eligible for management by the pharmacy. Almost half (44%) visited the pharmacy during hours in which a physician’s office would be closed, and a similar amount (43%) had no primary care provider.

“Again, you’re seeing the pharmacy being that access point for appropriate care,” Wimmer said.

She added that patients can always be referred to a provider when appropriate, allowing pharmacists to maintain those strong relationships with other health care providers. Getting started with point-of-care testing is easy, Wimmer said. Pharmacies should first apply for a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment waiver, then should create a standing testing order to help define which patients qualify for testing. Finally, pharmacies should establish a testing protocol and report results as needed.

Wimmer concluded that point-of-care testing accessibility was essential during the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to be important as patients resume testing for routine issues, such as blood sugar levels, lipids, and other health signals.

REFERENCE

Simko L, Wimmer M, and Russell B. Reliable, Rapid Growth: Why Point-of-Care Testing Should Be Your Next Big Move. Presented at: Pharmacy Development Services 2021 conference; May 20, 2021. Accessed May 20, 2021.