Point-of-care testing in community pharmacies is becoming more common, according to a new report by the International Pharmaceutical Federation, which also cited challenges that remain to be addressed.
“Pharmacy-based point-of-care testing: A global intelligence report” brings together evidence from a literature review, findings from a survey of 25 countries, 11 case studies and the discussion of a FIP insight board, giving an overview of pharmacist-led POCT interventions around the world.
POCT services, which include a wide range of tests to identify, diagnose, assess and/or monitor indicators of health, are strongly correlated with positive health outcomes. They also are linked to economic savings, increased health system efficiency and reduced burden on other healthcare sectors, the authors said. The report gives examples of POCT services being linked to prescribing authority by pharmacists, contributing to reducing pressure on general practice and emergency departments.
“Due to the high level of patient interaction and the ways in which patients frequent pharmacies, community pharmacies are uniquely positioned to provide POCT for various conditions, many of public concern, ranging from infectious diseases to chronic diseases. Providing these services in pharmacies is an invaluable tool for the early detection and management of diseases, as well as for triaging patients and referring if needed,” said Inês Nunes da Cunha, FIP practice development and transformation projects manager and co-author of the report.
According to the report, in addition to blood glucose and cholesterol measurements, POCT available from community pharmacists now includes streptococcus A pharyngitis, coeliac disease, influenza, hepatitis C and HIV.
However, the report also highlights obstacles to pharmacy POCT that need to be overcome, such as lack of reimbursement, inadequate collaborative practice models and IT solutions to input test results and clinical decisions by the pharmacist, and legislative regulatory barriers, in order for more pharmacists to offer these services.
“For the implementation of pharmacy-based POCT to be more successful, we need to leverage resources and foster collaboration with other healthcare professions,” Nunes da Cunha said.
A FIP statement of policy on the role of pharmacy professionals in point-of-care testing published in 2022 makes a number of recommendations for different stakeholders, including governments, policymakers and FIP member organizations, to further the provision of POCT services in pharmacies.