Point-of-care testing (POCT) is performed at the time and place of patient care. Types of POCT include blood glucose testing, rapid cardiac marker testing and infectious disease testing. POC testing devices have enhanced the diagnostic capacity for several severe diseases and disorders, with the technology’s biggest selling point being its drastic reduction of turnaround time.
Numerous factors are stimulating the demand for POC testing. These include the increasing prevalence of infectious diseases in developing countries, the rising incidences of lifestyle diseases such as cardiac diseases and diabetes, the rising usage of home-based POC devices, and technological advancements in molecular testing.
The Covid-19 pandemic in particular has accelerated the POC diagnostics market, with companies focused on developing these devices to provide a rapid and reliable method for virus detection. The gold standard in Covid-19 diagnostic testing is reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) due to its high accuracy, ease of access and high throughput. Standard RT-PCR approaches, however, rely heavily on expensive equipment, well-trained staff and equipped laboratories. In addition, sample examination using this method usually takes between four and six hours, excluding the shipping time to laboratories, which increases the total turnaround time with a higher risk of cross-contamination.
POCT devices hit the market a few months after the first Covid-19 RT-PCR tests were deployed in order to address these issues. While throughput is lower, Covid-19 POC diagnostics, such as the Abbott ID Now, which utilises isothermal nucleic acid amplification, can deliver results in 15 minutes or less, allowing for real-time diagnosis. As new Covid-19 cases subside and high-throughput testing is not as urgent, Covid-19 POC diagnostics become a more attractive test due to the fast delivery time of results. According to GlobalData’s Marketed Products database, there are more than 500 Covid-19 POC diagnostics currently on the market.
Opportunities to implement successful POCT facilities have been expanding throughout the years as the technology has progressively improved. Due to the pandemic, the demand for these devices has increased and manufacturing companies are racing to make the next-generation POC platforms faster, easier and more reliable. POC diagnostics are, therefore, well-positioned to challenge traditional centralised laboratory methods.