Building blocks for the point-of-care boom Selecting and implementing the right components is the essential first step toward market success for POC devices. Ian Macfarlane and Fred Davis Although IVD testing is predominantly conducted in central laboratories, many manufacturers are increasingly developing point-of-care (POC) test systems to extend the reach of and, in some cases, to replace lab-based systems. POC testing is a multibillion-dollar market and one of the most rapidly growing IVD testing segments. Two key factors are driving the growth of this market. First, the need of clinicians for quick test results in settings where patient treatment decisions benefit from immediate diagnostic findings, such as hospital emergency rooms and physician offices. Second, the development of technologies that are capable of delivering the operational simplicity required by POC systems. Manufacturers that are looking to develop successful POC products face three key challenges. First, they must select and implement features and benefits that will cost-effectively match the needs of end-users. Second, they must develop the core technologies necessary to create a functional product. And finally, they must ensure that they have selected appropriate market applications for the core technology. This article examines four building blocks of POC technology that are critical to market success: user interfaces, cartridges, detection mechanisms, and control and communications elements (see Figure 1). These subsystems play important roles in the POC instrument's interactions with end-users (see Figure 2). Effective design of these subsystems contributes directly to a POC instrument's success in fulfilling the varied needs of end-users, including rapid results, high accuracy and precision, simple and safe test operation, minimal quality control and maintenance requirements, and minimum cost per result. In this article, each of these subsystems is reviewed with reference to three products that are currently on the market, the ABL 77 by Radiometer (Brønshøj, Denmark),
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