That’s the question users of glucose monitors and other point-of-care (POC) tests may ask, according to a leading health care market research publisher. As wireless communication becomes standard in hospitals, it is incumbent on the $12.9 billion worldwide market for POC test systems to participate fully in this phenomenon. Connectivity is a high priority issue in order for hospital POC testing and critical care device markets to expand, according to the findings of "Point of Care Diagnostics 2010 and Beyond: Rapid Testing at a Crossroads," from health care market research publisher Kalorama Information.

"On-the-spot access to patient information and care guidelines is part of the health care quality imperative of the 21st century," notes Shara Rosen, Kalorama Information’s diagnostics analyst. "Cost reduction pressures and the need for shortened in-patient stays are promoting the use of wireless communication in and out of hospitals."

While the worldwide medical community is racing to embrace EMR and telemedicine, most POC test devices currently have limited connectivity capabilities and cannot participate. At this time all major lab-based instruments interface automatically to an LIS or HIS system. However many glucose monitors in hospital wards don’t have this connectivity capability and so they don’t become part of a patient’s EMR. The same applies to almost all pregnancy and urinalysis tests performed in the hospital but outside the laboratory.

Within today’s hospital environment of limited resources, cost pressures, decentralized patient information, staggering investment in new technologies and increased regulatory scrutiny, health care is more challenging than ever before. POC testing is poised to provide a solution to some of these economic pressures. But without first-class connectivity solutions, POC testing cannot provide the expected benefits in improved patient care that will lead to cost reductions.

"Any manufacturers who want to make their POC products incredibly valuable should make sure they can link up with major EMR systems," says Rosen.

Beyond the connectivity issue, the next frontier is continuous monitoring of patients in acute care and in selected treatment areas such as dialysis, intensive care and the OR. Also, as the number of POC tests continues to grow, potential users will not want to learn to use a large number of devices. Therefore, considerable research has been ongoing for about a decade on a multipurpose POC platform that can run chemistries and immunoassays.

Kalorama Information’s "Point of Care Diagnostics 2010 and Beyond: Rapid Testing at a Crossroads," provides an in-depth analysis of world markets for OTC and professional POC tests. A review of technology and industry trends, EMR connectivity, and health care reform, a breakdown of testing by venue and test segment, and profiles of key companies are included. More information is available online.

Source: Kalorama Information