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Pathology Informatics at the Point of Care

Laura Newman
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Large health systems are streamlining procedures via POCT.

For example, McClintock pointed to University of Chicago Medicine’s adoption of a rapid “decision to admit” process that is based on point-of-care-testing to expedite lab and radiology work. This permits emergency room physicians to assess and triage their patients more quickly.

Growing Pains

Clinical informatics only became a board-certified medical specialty in 2011. Numerous hurdles need to be overcome before best practices are known. Wireless mobile technologies, electronic health records and mobile devices vary in their capabilities and capacity to interact. In addition, laboratory information systems were designed before the advent of wireless mobile communications. Multiple changes are expected in the years ahead, as pathology informaticists work to maximize functionality, interoperability and actionability at the point of care.

Expanding Array of POC Tests

Many tests are POC-compatible. McClintock mentioned glucose, pregnancy, dipstick urinalysis and PT/INR warfarin monitoring as the most common and important tests likely to provide invaluable immediate feedback. In the infectious disease domain, PCR tests now make it possible to get extremely sensitive and specific results in the office, leading to quicker treatment for patients and less overprescribing of antibiotics when other preliminary test results are negative but the physician suspects lab testing will yield a positive.

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