The emergence of point-of-care (POC) diagnostics specifically designed for low-resource settings coupled with the rapid increase in need for routine care of patients with chronic diseases should prompt reconsideration of how health care can be delivered most beneficially and cost-effectively in developing countries. Bolstering support for primary care to provide rapid and appropriate integrated acute and chronic care treatment may be a possible solution. POC diagnostics can empower local and primary care providers and enable them to make better clinical decisions. This article explores the opportunity for POC diagnostics to strengthen primary care and chronic disease diagnosis and management in a low-resource setting (LRS) to deliver appropriate, consistent, and integrated care. We analyze the requirements of resource-appropriate chronic disease care, the characteristics of POC diagnostics in LRS versus the developed world, the many roles of diagnostics in the care continuum in LRS, and the process and economics of developing LRS-compatible POC diagnostics.
Keywords: chronic diseases; clinical automation; diagnostics; engineering; laboratory management; point-of-care testing; systems.
© 2013 Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening.