The Institute of Medicine objectives for care are that health care is safe, effective, timely, patient-centered, efficient, and equitable (Institute of Medicine. Quality Chasm Series. http://www.iom.edu/ ?SearchText_ Quality%20Chasm%20Series (accessed October 7, 2007). Laboratory tests are central to modern health care and directly impact each of these objectives. However, the time taken to send a test to the laboratory and receive a result can fragment care and therefore negatively impact on patient outcomes. Point-of-care testing has evolved in its potential to timely and efficiently deliver diagnostic services at the patient's bedside or 'point of care' which maybe a clinic, home, or outreach center.
Ninety-nine percent (99%) of the time, nurses are at the patient's 'point of care'. So nurses carry much of the burden in hospitals and large clinics to ensure the patient receives a safe, effective, and timely care. This however is exacerbated by time lost to foraging for equipment, supplies, medications, and test results and struggling with poorly designed information technology support systems. The promise of POC technologies is to eliminate much of this waste by computerized tracking of materials and processes in addition to locating more of the care activity at the patient's bedside.
This presentation discussed the important role nursing plays in ensuring the patient and organization achieves the greatest benefit from point-of-care testing.