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Celebrating 10 years of Point of Care testing

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18th December, 2023

At NSW Health Pathol­o­gy (NSWHP), we man­age the largest accred­it­ed Point of Care Test­ing (PoCT) ser­vice in the world.

This vital ser­vice has been grow­ing since the day we went live in Nar­romine ten years ago, with over 1100 PoCT devices now in 190 health ser­vices across NSW.

PoCT uses mobile devices to analyse pathol­o­gy sam­ples, like blood and sali­va, and pro­vide on-the-spot results at a patient’s hos­pi­tal bed­side or in the com­mu­ni­ty. We help to make sure that patients can get qual­i­ty, reli­able pathol­o­gy tests, at the time they need them the most.

To cel­e­brate the 10-year anniver­sary of PoCT and reflect on just how much the ser­vice has evolved, we caught up with a mem­ber of the orig­i­nal PoCT team who launched our Nar­romine ser­vice in 2013, Gayle Warnock, Act­ing Oper­a­tions Man­ag­er PoCT.

What did the PoCT service look like when you launched the service at Narromine in October 2013?

Pri­or to 2013 when NSWHP began rolling out our PoCT net­work, local point of care test­ing was dis­joint­ed. There weren’t enough ser­vices to cov­er the grow­ing demand, par­tic­u­lar­ly in our rur­al and region­al areas.

How has the PoCT service changed over 10 years?

Our ser­vice has been expand­ing since day one and it is amaz­ing to reflect on what has been achieved.

We’ve added devices in more rur­al and remote hos­pi­tals to ensure more patients in NSW can access urgent and some­times life­sav­ing pathol­o­gy services.

We have worked with our NSW Health col­leagues to con­nect exist­ing PoCT devices that were in reg­u­lar use in hos­pi­tals and clin­ics to elec­tron­ic med­ical records (eMRs) and qual­i­ty man­age­ment sys­tems, help­ing us to pro­vide tru­ly con­nect­ed care.

We’ve con­tin­ued to add new and high­er-qual­i­ty devices to improve our ser­vices as new tech­nol­o­gy and more point of care pathol­o­gy tests became available.

Our POCT ser­vice has matured so much over the past 10 years. We have a com­pre­hen­sive gov­er­nance sys­tem, world lead­ing Qual­i­ty Con­trol (QC) and Qual­i­ty Assur­ance Plan (QAP) man­age­ment tools and have devel­oped sim­pler and more acces­si­ble train­ing sys­tems to sup­port our health care providers and clin­i­cal teams.

We are even now branch­ing out into AI sys­tems and a stronger IT infra­struc­ture to pro­vide bet­ter insights into our PoCT ser­vice. PoCT is not just pathol­o­gy! It’s a com­bi­na­tion of tech­nol­o­gy, peo­ple and data man­age­ment, meld­ing togeth­er to shape what NSW Health and our patients and com­mu­ni­ties need now, and into the future.

What does the growth in PoCT testing mean for clinicians and patients in regional and rural communities?

The avail­abil­i­ty of PoCT can be life­sav­ing for peo­ple in rur­al and remote com­mu­ni­ties. In its most extreme exam­ples, it pro­vides vital emer­gency and pri­ma­ry health ser­vices like the Toll Ambu­lance Res­cue Heli­copter Ser­vice and Roy­al Fly­ing Doc­tor Ser­vice (RFDS) with access to crit­i­cal pathol­o­gy results that give seri­ous­ly injured and unwell patents the best chance at survival.

On a day-to-day lev­el, local PoCT ser­vices help peo­ple to stay in their homes and com­mu­ni­ties and avoid unnec­es­sary trav­el and hos­pi­tal admis­sions. It’s so much bet­ter to be near friends and fam­i­ly when you’re unwell, rather than need to be trans­ferred hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres from home for care.

In more met­ro­pol­i­tan areas, PoCT also helps to break down bar­ri­ers for peo­ple with chal­lenges access­ing health­care. Those who don’t have Eng­lish as a first lan­guage, who strug­gle with trans­port, iso­la­tion, or men­tal health issues. Hav­ing a result straight away when see­ing their spe­cial­ist or clin­ic can help pro­vide the best care to every­one access­ing NSW Health services.

What do you love most about working in the PoCT space?

I love the prob­lem solv­ing! There is nev­er a dull day and I get to work with so many diverse groups both with­in pathol­o­gy and in the clin­i­cal space. We have so many oppor­tu­ni­ties to devel­op sys­tems that real­ly con­tribute to patient care, to pathol­o­gy and even into the growth of PoCT nation­al­ly as our peers in oth­er states devel­op their own systems.

What is your vision for PoCT?

My vision is for PoCT to be a ful­ly con­nect­ed clin­i­cal resource. To sup­port our health care col­leagues, con­nect into clin­i­cal deci­sion tools and patient man­age­ment sys­tems and main­tain a lab­o­ra­to­ry qual­i­ty stan­dard of results.

There are so many new PoCT options avail­able now as tech­nol­o­gy allows for small­er and small­er sys­tems, new diag­nos­tic mark­ers are being found and every­one wants an imme­di­ate answer.

I want to see NSW Health Pathol­o­gy as the lead­ing voice on PoCT. To see us lead the way with val­i­dat­ed high-qual­i­ty sys­tems that pro­vide mean­ing­ful results to peo­ple, no mat­ter where they are in NSW.


We are com­mit­ted to devel­op­ing and improv­ing our PoCT ser­vice and can’t wait to watch it con­tin­ue to grow over the next 10 years. Learn more about the ser­vice here.


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