A new report from Reportlinker.com, "Hospital-based Point of Care Diagnostics: Products, Players and Outlook to 2017," says that clinical and patient benefits are driving the hospital-based point-of-care product sector, which achieved growth of 7.5 percent in 2011.
The market for point-of-care (POC) diagnostic products used in a hospital setting was worth approximately $2.9 billion in 2011 with sectors such as cardiac markers making double digit growth in the year. There is growing interest in the adoption of POC technologies, strong demand in emerging markets, and the introduction of new products that enable POC testing for more applications, according to the report.
Hospital-based POC diagnostics offer healthcare providers an opportunity to improve the quality of patient care while saving time and reducing costs. A faster diagnosis can mean a faster medical intervention, potentially avoiding the need to admit a patient into hospital and the costs incurred as a result, while also freeing up that hospital bed.
Hospital-based point-of-care technology provides clinical efficiency and life saving benefits:
- The integration of IT connectivity and data management features enables POC analysers to communicate with hospital IT systems and electronic patient records in order to increase efficiency, facilitate quality control and reduce the chance of user error.
- The development of new technologies that enable DNA analysis and the identification of hospital-acquired infections such as MRSA at the point of care.
- The patient experience is improved with shorter waiting times and hospital stays, and lower rates of hospital-acquired infections.
- Automated calibration, processing and operation features eliminate the need for medical staff to add reagents or undertake manual handling steps as errors in these areas can impact patient safety and the accuracy of POC test results.
According to the report, concerns have been raised by laboratory professionals that the decentralization of hospital testing and the use of POC products by less skilled users may result in inaccurate diagnoses. This has strengthened resistance to the changes needed for POC products to be widely adopted and implemented. The counter argument in favor of POC testing is not helped by the lack of a wide clinical evidence base which is needed if POC diagnostics are to prove they provide lab-quality results and benefits in terms of clinical-usefulness, convenience and cost savings.
There are around 80 companies active in the hospital POC diagnostics market, although many are development-stage or have limited product portfolios. The market is currently dominated by Alere (previously Inverness Medical Innovations), Abbott, Radiometer, Roche and Siemens. Currently, Abbott, Radiometer, Roche and Siemens have strong positions in the markets for clinical chemistry and blood gas analysis; Abbott, Alere and Roche are leaders for POC cardiac marker testing; and Beckman Coulter, Quest Diagnostics, Horiba and Sysmex are key companies in POC hematology diagnostics.