Background: Medical practices face challenges of time and cost pressures with scarce resources. Point-of-care testing (POCT) has the potential to accelerate processes compared to central laboratory testing and can increase satisfaction of physicians, staff members, and patients. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of introducing HbA1c POCT in practices specialized in diabetes.
Method: Three German practices that manage 400, 550, and 950 diabetes patients per year participated in this evaluation. The workflow and required time before and after POCT implementation (device: Alere Afinion AS100 Analyzer) was evaluated in each practice. Physician (n = 5), staff (n = 9), and patient (n = 298) satisfaction was assessed with questionnaires and interviews.
Results: After POCT implementation the number of required visits scheduled was reduced by 80% (88% vs 17.6%, P < .0001), the number of venous blood collections by 75% (91% vs 23%, P < .0001). Of patients, 82% (vs 13% prior to POCT implementation) were able to discuss their HbA1c values with treating physicians immediately during their first visit ( P < .0001). In two of the practices the POCT process resulted in significant time savings of approximately 20 and 22 working days per 1000 patients per year (95% CI 2-46; 95% CI 10-44). All physicians indicated that POCT HbA1c implementation improved the practice workflow and all experienced a relief of burden for the office and the patients. All staff members indicated that they found the POCT measurement easy to perform and experienced a relief of burden. The majority (61.3%) of patients found the capillary blood collection more pleasant and 83% saw an advantage in the immediate availability of HbA1c results.
Conclusions: The implementation of HbA1c POCT leads to an improved practice workflow and increases satisfaction of physicians, staff members and patients.
Keywords: HBA1c POCT; POCT; diabetes treatment; laboratory testing; point-of-care testing.