Updated on 21 December 2012
Point-of-care diagnostics - Ushering in a paradigm shift in healthcare
In 2011, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation rolled out a new grant of $31 million to fund innovation in point-of-care diagnostics (POCD) in the developing world. The initiative aimed to engage minds across scientific disciplines to work on solutions that could lead to breakthrough advances in diagnostic tool designs, making them more affordable and accessible. The idea behind the initiative is that new and improved diagnostics at point-of-care can help health workers provide affordable and easy-to-use tools. This will help in rapid disease diagnosis and more timely treatment, thereby reducing death, disability and transmission of infections in resource-poor communities.
Robust, inexpensive and simple diagnostic tests at point-of-care settings can greatly improve quality and efficacy of healthcare available to people living in developing countries, where the burden of disease is the highest.
The global point-of-care diagnostics market reached $13.4 billion in 2010 and $13.8 billion in 2011. Market analysis company TechNavio predicts that the market is poised to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 3.9 percent between 2011 and 2015 and will reach $5.2 billion in 2014.
Multinational companies such as Roche Diagnostics, Beckman Coulter, Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics and Becton Dickinson have wide penetration in the point-of-care diagnostics market. The market for point-of-care testing can be widely divided into glucose monitoring, blood chemistry and electrolyte, pregnancy and fertility, cardiac markers, drug and alcohol, infectious disease, cholesterol, hemoglobin/hemostasis, urine chemistry and tumor marker.
Taking note of the trends in the healthcare sector, both multinationals and Asian medical device makers are giving investing to develop diagnostic tools that are simpler and easy-to-use to tap the market.
After the announcement of grant from the Gates Foundation, Qiagen started development of portable instruments based on its advanced molecular testing technologies for point of need applications. The company, a global provider of sample and assay technologies, is developing easy-to-use, portable molecular testing devices that can perform diagnostic tests in the field, far from any hospital or laboratory infrastructure.