Updated on 21 December 2012
Besides, there are roadblocks in leveraging the point-of-care market. Though the target users are primarily in developing countries where delivering fast healthcare is a challenge, patients may find discomfort in using point-of-care devices due to lack of technical know-how. "It is important to educate the market about the product, what it does, why it is needed, and how to integrate it into the established work practices. In terms of obtaining regulatory approvals, the US market is typically the most challenging and time consuming but represents over 40 percent of the world market," said Mr Wright of Universal Biosensors.
What the future holds
Technology and scale will bring down costs related to development and production of devices and, therefore, their prices over time.
However, more important is the overall cost to the healthcare system in using point-of-care diagnostics rather than alternatives (either via centralised lab testing or avoiding diagnosis). According to Universal Biosensors, point-of-care diagnostic solutions are effective where they reduce overall cost to the economy through better health outcomes (due to frequent monitoring or more rapid clinical intervention) and reduced treatment costs.
Mr Nitin Sawant, general manager, diagnostics, Trivitron Healthcare, points out that the point-of-care segment will show the highest growth in the near future due to demand for tests that can give faster results and can be performed near the patients and without the lab infrastructure and trained personnel.
"Lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and cardiac diseases are increasing and they require immediate diagnosis and self-monitoring. This is possible with point-of-care testing. In India, currently most of the quality devices and consumables are imported and have 29 percent import duty on them. The government can cut down on this duty. In addition, the government can encourage local manufacturing and usage of point-of-care in public hospitals," he said.