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BIVDA hosts event on the future of point of care diagnostics in community pharmacy

By October 27, 2023No Comments

On Wednesday, BIVDA hosted an event, as part of BIVDA’s Near Patient Testing Working Party, which examined the future of point of care diagnostics in community pharmacy. A packed audience and the expert panel gathered at the Royal College of Nursing to discuss this topic over three hours.

The panel consisted of Helga Manion, Healthcare Policy and Public Affairs Lead at the National Pharmacy Association; Nigel Clarke, Interim Chair of the Standards and Regulation Board, RICS; Joanna Andrew, president-elect of IBMS; Bruce Daniel, Head of Pathology for NHS England, South West region; and Judith Richardson, Programme Director at NICE. Industry expert Trevor Gore chaired the event.

The event delivered an incredibly nuanced set of conversations regarding the opportunities that near patient testing (NPT) in community pharmacy presents for both patients and the healthcare system, what the current state of play is and what systems needs to be implemented or redesigned to better facilitate pharmacy NPT.

Audience members were also invited to ask questions of the panel in the second half of the session, which allowed for an interactive and dynamic discussion.

The fluid, evolving nature of the conversation was underpinned by certain disagreements among the panel. There is undoubtedly huge scope in this area, but opinion divergence centred on implementation. Moreover, it was stressed that community pharmacy should not be seen as a quick fix to take pressure off GPs and testing must be done for the right reasons.

It was agreed that communication poses a huge challenge in this area. Diagnostic information is an immensely useful and potent tool but requires explanation to avoid confusion and misjudgement. Digital connectivity and communication must also be adequately realised between community pharmacies and other healthcare settings – namely GP practices, CDCs, and hospitals – to fully exploit community pharmacy NPT benefits. Currently, disconnected data would greatly limit utility.

This question led into concerns about aftercare and the need to ensure that a patient receives the necessary follow-up care after a positive test – again, an assertion which reinforces the need for greater connectivity.

The acknowledgement that community pharmacy NPT and expanding innovation is a positive development, and somewhat inevitable, is welcome. Clearly, there are many questions to be answered over the coming years as to which frameworks are enacted, silos rectified, and systems developed to make best use of this opportunity. Patient appetite is clearly very high too, and it is beholden on policymakers to collaborate with industry, organisations, and all necessary partners to ensure much-needed progress is made.

Thank you again to all speakers and those who attended and we look forward to seeing you at our next event.