Best Point of Care Devices
Top medical professionals use point-of-care (POC) devices and these are devices that rapidly provide results for a particular medical test without the need to take a sample to a lab. The devices vary in the tests that can be done but most process blood to give an instantaneous result that usually correlates with the standard laboratory test.
These tests can be done from the comfort of home, in an office or a busy emergency room. The devices may be for strictly professional use that are only to be used by medical personnel or can be used by everyone with the numerous user-friendly POC devices coming to market.
These devices can reduce the need to have formal testing for a particular condition. They also reduce the time it takes for the results to be generated eliminating the long turn-around times that may be associated with more traditional medical tests. They also allows for someone to monitor their condition and make any adjustment to therapy or help decide if its necessary to visit a hospital urgently.
As a medical doctor these are very valuable as a time saving strategy to help make your decisions quickly for your patients. These are my top 3 picks for POC devices.
The glucometer a device that measures blood glucose or blood sugar has been in existence since the 1970s and the technology around them has been improving allowing for accurate testing of blood sugar levels. Conditions such as diabetes mellitus have necessitated the need for rapid and fairly cheap methods of regularly monitoring bold glucose and this device neatly fills that niche.
With a simple needle-prick, blood glucose can easily be checked and recorded allowing for dosage adjustments and initiation of therapy if medically indicated. It is also a very useful tool in an emergency such as hypoglycemia which may be as a result of diabetes medication overdose or another medical emergency.
2. Cholesterol checker
Heart disease is a leading cause of death in both men and women worldwide and cholesterol is at the heart of many of these disorders (no pun intended). Cholesterol comes in many shapes and forms but can be broadly divided into good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. Elevated levels of the good cholesterol have been linked with good health while elevated levels of bad cholesterol have been linked with atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes. Its important to measure these levels in at-risk people to help reduce their risk of developing a life-threatening heart condition.
Cholesterol POC devices are a relatively newer invention whose importance has become increased with the alarming levels of heart disease globally. With more people taking cholesterol medication as well, these devices are a convenient alternative to regular clinic checkups and lab tests to keep track of cholesterol levels. There are both professional and patient friendly devices that can be used.
I personally prefer the Cholestech PA which is designated for professional use, but non-professional user devices are also available for patients and caregivers to monitor cholesterol levels. It also has the benefit of being a glucometer as well so you can save on buying two devices.
3. INR checker
INR stands for international normalization ratio and is a test that is used to measure how fast your blood clots. Unlike some other tests, this test is calculated from another test called prothrombin time. In certain conditions, the INR is supposed to be kept slightly above the normal range to prevent the blood from clotting too fast and causing blockage to important blood vessels.
These conditions include atrial fibrillation, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism amongst others where a patient may be prescribed a ‘blood thinner’ such as warfarin that works as a vitamin K antagonist blocking your blood from rapidly forming blood clots and keeping it flowing smoothly.
However as a consequence, too much ‘blood thinning’ medication can predispose someone to severe bleeding and in the worst case scenario this may be life threatening. It is for this reason that INR monitoring is important. I learnt about these fairly recently, but its relevance is magnified by the accumulating data that the much-maligned vitamin k antagonists may actually be better in some conditions requiring anticoagulation.
Feel free to leave us a comment or send us an email if you have any other POC device you like.
If you are looking for gear you will need when starting medical school check out my article on it with this link.