Point-of-Care Testing in an Era of Laboratory Consolidation
As laboratories consolidate and form networks to reduce costs and improve efficiency, some embrace POC whole-heartedly, extolling its ability to save money. Others are eliminating whatever POC testing they currently offer, investing instead in infrastructure to improve efficiency and turn around times in their central laboratories.
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The hospital market for point-of-care testing represents a conundrum for manufacturers. Demand for it is growing--but, with the exception of glucose monitoring, not as fast as proponents had expected. A recent survey of a third of US hospitals with 150 or more beds seeks to gather information about hospital point-of-care testing utilization and preferences.
The in vitro diagnostics industry has looked for years to point-of-care testing in hospitals as a growth segment. The premise is sound--easy-to-use tests performed near the patient will yield faster results that enable physicians to make better on-the-spot treatment decisions. In reality, hospital demand is increasing, but not as fast as expected. A recent survey of one-third of US hospitals with 150 beds or more, by Enterprise Analysis Corp. seeks to understand POCT usage and demand trends.
Abbott Laboratories' acquisition of i-Stat for $392 million reflects the promise and limitations of point-of-care diagnostics. A decade ago, i-Stat was a giddy startup, on a mission to revolutionize laboratory medicine with a handheld diagnostics system that could run basic blood tests rapidly at the patients' bedside. While it has accomplished much, it is far from creating a revolution. Meanwhile, the timing of the deal comes as Abbott emerges from a four-year nightmare with the FDA in which the FDA forced it to pull many of its important immunoassay tests off the market.