14 October 2019
Point of Care Testing initiative designed to accelerate benefits for patients, practices
One of the key challenges faced by patients and health providers in regional and remote areas of
Australia is the turnaround time usually required to access test results that are often key to the
treatment and management of illnesses.
That’s why Point of Care Testing (PoCT) is so important. As the name suggests, the testing and
analysis happens at the front line, providing faster access to test results and enabling more rapid
clinical decision making, treatment and interventions.
Now a new report commissioned by Country SA PHN aims to accelerate these benefits for patients
and general practice, with a six point of care tests initiative available for practices to start using.
The initiative is being launched at today’s National Point of Care Testing Scientific Education Meeting
at the Adelaide Convention Centre.
“For nearly 20 years, many Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations across Australia
have utilised point of care testing for pathology tests for the diagnosis and management of chronic
diseases,” said Ali Krollig, Director Health Policy with Country SA PHN.
"We followed that lead and commissioned well respected clinical provider iCCNet to offer this
service as part of a trial package to general practices and Aboriginal community health organisations
throughout country South Australia.
“The success of that initial trial has led us to fund the program for another two years. We also
commissioned Brentnalls SA - Health Division to build a business case and tools to help support
other rural and regional health providers across Australia looking to implement point of care testing
and build sustainability for those who are engaged in the current funded activity.
“We believe the experience gleaned and included in this report will assist practices to understand
the costs and logistics of providing this kind of service and hopefully accelerate its delivery to more
patients in more parts of Australia.”
The release of Country SA PHN’s business case coincides with the recent Medical Services Advisory
Committee’s consideration of a Medicare rebate for point of care testing for the diagnosis and
management of diabetes mellitus.
“We consider this to be a major step forward in improving health outcomes and we’re encouraging
general practices to start offering this fantastic initiative,” Ali said.
“Limited access to pathology services can create significant delays for rural patients who often have
to travel two or more hours to their nearest regional centre and then wait much longer for the results.
“Point of care testing not only increases the speed and efficiency of diagnosis and treatment, but it
can also improve the prescribing of antibiotics and other medicines.”
Country SA PHN’s Point of Care Testing initiative provides general practices with:
A business case which outlines a cost-effective approach to implementing point of care testing;
An implementation tool – meaning general practices can easily start to use and offer the initiative.
A business case for six point of care tests which can be offered to patients, including:
- CRP – a blood test marker for inflammation used to determine how well the body
- is fighting infection and whether antibiotics should be administered.
- Lipids – to determine the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and to monitor
- conditions that can cause hardening of the arteries.
HbA1c – to monitor diabetes and used alongside blood sugar tests providing long
term measurement of blood glucose levels.
- INR – to monitor how well blood thinning medication is working to prevent blood clots.
NT-proBNP – to exclude heart failure as a cause for difficult breathing or to
diagnose the severity of heart failure.
ACR – to screen for kidney disease in persons with chronic conditions, such as
diabetes and high blood pressure.
About Country SA PHN
Country SA PHN is responsible for commissioning Commonwealth directed funding for primary health services
throughout regional South Australia. It is the health network set up to service the country regions of South
Australia, increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery while improving the coordination of
patient care. Established by the Australian Government, we exist to bridge the gap of health inequity and
access in rural South Australia by building a collaborative and responsive health care system. Country SA PHN
covers 99.8% of the state geographically, incorporating approximately 30% of South Australia’s total
population. For more information go to www.countrysaphn.com.au