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Bringing The Hospital Home With POCT

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At-home POCT can empower patients by providing them with the means to monitor their health status and perform diagnostic tests independently outside of the clinic, taking more control over their own health status.

In recent years, at-home point-of-care testing (POCT) has emerged as a transformative approach in healthcare, enabling patients to conveniently perform diagnostic tests from the comfort of their own homes (1). POCT has significant implications for patient care, as it can help to reduce the burden on the healthcare system, facilitate early interventions, and improve patient outcomes (2–4). This article explores how POCT can be used to revolutionize patient care, allowing for faster transitions from hospital to home, and ultimately transforming the way healthcare is delivered.

 

 

 

 

By implementing at-home POCT, healthcare providers can accelerate the transition of patients from hospital to home while continuing to monitor their health status with at-home POCT.

The Power of At-Home POC Testing
At-home POCT can empower patients by providing them with the means to monitor their health status and perform diagnostic tests independently outside of the clinic, taking more control over their own health status (5). Portable and user-friendly POCT devices, ranging from blood glucose meters to molecular diagnostics platforms, allow individuals to obtain rapid and accurate test results without the need for a lab technician or a trip to the clinic (1,5). This convenience not only saves patients time and effort, but also promotes a greater sense of independence and engagement in their own healthcare journey (3,5)


At-home POCT is becoming more accepted amongst individuals and medical professionals, and one major driver of this is the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, many people avoided seeing medical professionals to reduce their risk of infection. This created a gap of unmet health needs that was partially filled through POCT. At-home COVID-19 quick tests became very popular and improved knowledge of the disease epidemiology, helping to reduce the spread. At-home testing also allowed health professionals to be informed of their patient’s status before the visit, which improved the relationship between the patient and health professional, allowed the health professional to be safer, and improved outcomes. There was also an increase in the acceptance of other types of POCT such as those targeting endocrine and metabolic health, suggesting that overall, POCT is being seen as more favorable than ever before for managing and monitoring conditions as well as infectious disease diagnoses (6).
 

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Patients that received hospital at home care had a 26% lower risk for readmission, lower risk for long-term care admission, and lower levels of anxiety and depression compared to the in-hospital group

Reducing Healthcare System Burden

Hospitals across Europe are facing a continuous increase in hospital admissions, with a 20% decrease in available hospital beds per 1000 population just within the last 20 years. However, there have not been sufficient initiatives to manage this increase. By implementing at-home POCT, healthcare providers can accelerate the transition of patients from hospital to home while continuing to monitor their health status with at-home POCT. Through regular testing and remote communication with healthcare providers, patients can receive timely interventions and adjustments to their treatment plans, if necessary (7). Furthermore, the adoption of at-home POCT significantly alleviates the burden on the healthcare system. By enabling patients to perform tests at home, it reduces the strain on hospital resources such as bed occupancy and outpatient clinic visits. This resource optimization improves overall healthcare access, reduces waiting times, and frees up valuable resources for patients requiring acute care or specialized treatments. Furthermore, at-home POCT helps mitigate healthcare costs by transitioning patients from the hospital back into their homes. Prolonged hospital stays are associated with substantial expenses,   and by facilitating early discharge, at-home testing reduces unnecessary expenditures (7,8). The shift towards home-based care also minimizes the risk of hospital-acquired infections, leading to cost savings and enhanced patient safety. One study found that each day spent in the hospital results in a 1.37% increase in the chance of getting a hospital acquired infection (9). Furthermore, studies have found a number of benefits for the patients receiving hospital at home care as well. In one systematic review and meta-analysis including 9 randomized clinical trials, patients that received hospital at home care had a 26% lower risk for readmission compared to the in-hospital group. They also had a lower risk for long-term care admission, and lower levels of anxiety and depression (10). This outlines the benefits that moving the hospital into the patients’ home can have both on the healthcare system and on individuals, and POCT may be a crucial component to this transition.

 

Conclusion

At-home POC testing represents a groundbreaking advancement in healthcare, offering patients the ability to perform diagnostic tests conveniently and efficiently from their homes (1). This transformative approach expedites transitions from hospital to home, eases the burden on the healthcare system, and enhances patient outcomes (7,8). By embracing at-home POC testing, healthcare providers can provide patient-centered care, optimize resource allocation, and contribute to a more effective and accessible healthcare system.

References 1.Stauss M, Keevil B, Woywodt A. Point-of-Care Testing: Home Is Where the Lab Is. Kidney360. 2022 May 11;3(7):1285–8. 2.Kankaanpää M, Raitakari M, Muukkonen L, Gustafsson S, Heitto M, Palomäki A, et al. Use of point-of-care testing and early assessment model reduces length of stay for ambulatory patients in an emergency department. Scand J Trauma Resusc Emerg Med. 2016 Oct 18;24(1):125. 3.Wilkens R, Dolinger M, Burisch J, Maaser C. Point-of-Care Testing and Home Testing: Pragmatic Considerations for Widespread Incorporation of Stool Tests, Serum Tests, and Intestinal Ultrasound. Gastroenterology. 2022 Apr 1;162(5):1476–92. 4.Vashist SK. Point-of-Care Diagnostics: Recent Advances and Trends. Biosensors. 2017 Dec 18;7(4):62. 5.Daruwalla Z, Thakkar V, Aggarwal M, Kiasatdolatabadi A, Guergachi A, Keshavjee K. Patient Empowerment: The Role of Technology. Stud Health Technol Inform. 2019 Jan 1;257:70–4. 6.Dunlap DR, Santos RS, Lilly CM, Teebagy S, Hafer NS, Buchholz BO, et al. COVID-19: a gray swan’s impact on the adoption of novel medical technologies. Humanit Soc Sci Commun. 2022 Jul 8;9(1):1–9. 7.Knight T, Lasserson D. Hospital at home for acute medical illness: The 21st century acute medical unit for a changing population. J Intern Med. 2022;291(4):438–57. 8.Levine DM, Ouchi K, Blanchfield B, Saenz A, Burke K, Paz M, et al. Hospital-Level Care at Home for Acutely Ill Adults. Ann Intern Med. 2020 Jan 21;172(2):77–85. 9.Hassan M, Tuckman HP, Patrick RH, Kountz DS, Kohn JL. Hospital length of stay and probability of acquiring infection. Int J Pharm Healthc Mark. 2010 Nov 23;4(4):324–38. 10.Arsenault-Lapierre G, Henein M, Gaid D, Le Berre M, Gore G, Vedel I. Hospital-at-Home Interventions vs In-Hospital Stay for Patients With Chronic Disease Who Present to the Emergency Department: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Netw Open. 2021 Jun 8;4(6):e2111568.

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