Use of Point-of-Care Tests (POCTs) by US Primary Care Physicians

J Am Board Fam Med. 2016 May-Jun;29(3):371-6. doi: 10.3122/jabfm.2016.03.150249.


Objective: Point-of-care testing (POCT) has been used in the United States for several decades to diagnose and monitor acute and chronic medical conditions. The aim of this study is to assess the use of POCT and perceived benefits of and concerns regarding POCT among US family physicians.

Methods: A total of 405 US family physicians responded to an electronic survey about their use of POCT for diagnosing and monitoring illnesses and for reducing referrals for specialty care. Respondents were also asked about the frequency of, benefits of, and concerns regarding the use of POCT.

Results: The top 10 conditions for which physicians reported using POCT for diagnosis are diabetes mellitus, urinary tract infections, strep throat, influenza, pregnancy, anemia, infectious mononucleosis, anticoagulation, acute cardiac conditions, and lipid disorders. More than half of the respondents use or would use >15 kinds of POCTs at least weekly. The perceived benefits of POCT included immediately available results and physician/patient satisfaction; perceived concerns included the accuracy and cost of the tests.

Conclusions: Findings show that a variety of point-of-care tests are used by US family physicians for immediate diagnosis and monitoring. With continuing technical improvements and decreasing costs, it is highly likely that POCT use will increase dramatically.

Keywords: Family; Physicians; Point-of-Care Systems.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Health Care Costs
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Physicians, Primary Care*
  • Point-of-Care Testing / economics*
  • Point-of-Care Testing / statistics & numerical data*
  • Primary Health Care / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Primary Health Care / methods*
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • United States