New NHS England guidance on point of care testing (PoCT) has been published for those looking to integrate PoCT into their urgent community response or virtual ward services “to aid clinical decision-making, avoid unnecessary hospital admission and improve outcomes”.
The guidance focuses on in-vitro diagnostic (IVD) PoCT device diagnostics, with NHSE stating that the “rapid results” from these devices “can support better clinical decision-making, including helping to avoid unnecessary hospital admissions”, and that comparisons to laboratory testing indicate that ICD PoCT devices are “as accurate and reliable”.
The guidance suggests that there are three key questions to ask when considering the optimal diagnostic offer for a service, and whether using a PoCT device could improve outcomes: what do you need the test to tell you, how quickly do you need the result, and what is the situation within which you are operating?
For virtual ward and urgent community response teams, NHSE highlights that expected benefits for point of care testing include “quicker and more effective clinical decision-making”, “improved patient satisfaction and quality of life” and “significant cost savings to the NHS”, among others.
Advice for managing clinical risk through service design and through PoCT device set up and management is also provided within the guidance, which notes that PoCT devices being “appropriately validated, calibrated and maintained” is “critical to managing clinical risk”. It adds that potential for error in relation to device usage must be considered, safety netting advice and escalation plans must be in place for self-administered PoCT devices, and data recording must be in place with traceability to both the device and operating clinician.
On records and sharing, NHSE notes a need to ensure “clear protocol for the recording of a patient’s test results” with regards to who can view them and where they are accessible from. “Preferably,” the device adds, “the device results will be automatically transferred to the laboratory information management system, the relevant electronic patient record and the shared care record.” Where possible, those shared care records “should be accessible virtually by the professionals caring for the patient”.
It goes on to provide specific advice in other areas, including healthcare professional training; roles and responsibilities; procurement; and evaluation recommendations.
To read the new guidance on PoCT in full, please click here.
In other news on virtual wards, NHSE recently released guidance on the requirements of digital technologies supporting virtual wards across integrated care systems, focusing on the approach to procurement along with developing virtual ward specifications.
Also on virtual wards, the Health Technology Assessment Innovation Laboratory programme at NICE has conducted an early value assessment to support and inform the expansion of virtual ward provision and other intermediate care areas.