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  • 1 April 2016 to 31 July 2016
  • Project No: 309
  • Funding round: FR 11

General Practitioners (GPs) face multiple challenges in the process of reaching an accurate diagnosis; serious illnesses are rare, patients may present with vague symptoms and there are limited numbers of tests available which can give immediate answers. As a result, diagnostic uncertainty may lead to missed or delayed diagnoses or alternatively, inappropriate referral to hospitals.

Tests have been developed which can be performed at the time of the patient visit. These 'point of care' (POC) tests are able to provide blood results within minutes, instead of blood samples being sent to a central laboratory for processing.

The outlook for POC tests is certainly exciting. Quicker, more convenient tests could potentially improve accuracy in diagnosis as well as efficiency. However, although the diagnostic accuracy has been established, little is understood about the impact that these new diagnostic tests may have in day to day general practice. There are indications that POC tests change more than just the time of when the test result becomes available, but also have an impact on the number of people who get tested, which patients get tested, which patients are referred to secondary care etc. Thus far, what is lacking is an up to date summary of all the available evidence on the impact of POC testing in ambulatory care.

We aim to answer this question by performing a systematic review. We will examine the impact of POC tests on timing of diagnosis and healthcare processes, such as referral rates and use of hospital resources.

This application is for funding to pay for a GP who has a research interest in this area to lead and co-author this systematic review. We will use this review to help us identify where future research into point of care devices in primary care should be focused.

Amount awarded: £11,931

Evidence synthesis working group

The collaboration will be conducting 18 high impact systematic reviews, under four workstreams.

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