As previously defined, POCT is medical testing that is performed at or near the location of patient care. Prior to the mid-1980s, centralization of testing in the laboratory was the norm. With the introduction of new technologies some testing, most notably glucose and arterial blood gas (ABG) testing, migrated from the laboratory to patient care settings. Following the evolution of blood glucose and ABG testing, the menu of POCT continued to expand to include urinalysis, pregnancy, and coagulation testing. The currently available menu of POCT has expanded to more than 100 test methods.
The test methodologies span the spectrum from simple strips to cassettes to handheld or tabletop instrumentation. The medical/manufacturing community has worked to design convenient, easy-to-use diagnostic testing methods with rapid turnaround times that are used to shorten the therapeutic time when providing care for a patient. The provision of rapid diagnostic information allows for immediate decisions to be made in the clinical management of the patient that can improve clinical outcomes, as well as patient satisfaction. Multiple surveys have demonstrated that patients in an outpatient setting will wait longer and be more satisfied when test results are available rapidly or minimally during the office visit.