Lab staff shortages call for better point-of-care diagnostics

By Mike Miliard
11:03 AM

With a deficit in laboratory workers looming in many countries, point-of-care diagnostics are poised to help alleviate the need for centralized lab testing, says a new report by GlobalData, medical intelligence company.

The study finds that growth in the point-of-care market will be driven by future shortages of medical laboratory personnel, elderly patients’ preference for home monitoring and government initiatives aimed at increasing the adoption of point-of-care testing to cut costs.

[See also: Point-of-care diagnostics market headed to $16.5B.]

The growing elderly population in the United States and elsewhere has increased the need for laboratory services, as elderly individuals are at higher risk of suffering from health problems, GlobalData officials note. This has led to an increase in the demand for medical and clinical laboratory professionals, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of clinical laboratory workers in the U.S. is expected to grow from 328,100 in 2008 to 373,600 by 2018.

It is predicted that qualified personnel will not be able to meet surging demand due to declining numbers of accredited medical technology programs and increasing numbers of laboratory workers due to retire over the next decade, the study shows. The U.S. will therefore face a drought of qualified staff to man clinical laboratories, threatening patient testing demands and posing a problem for patient welfare. To overcome this concern, the industry may consider the simplification and automation of routine testing procedures to allow patients and physicians to perform tests themselves.

The U.S. is the largest market for point-of-care diagnostics, accounting for 42 percent of the global market during 2011. Growth in this market will be fueled by a strong demand for cardiac markers and coagulation point-of-care diagnostic products, and the launch of compact and small size products offering improved patient comfort and convenience, according to the report, which also notes that significant investments in research and development in the U.S., directed at molecular diagnostics, are also expected to encourage growth in the market.

[See also: Point-of-care testing market doubled over 6 years.]

In addition, with significant investment in electronic medical records by the U.S. government, the study says, the integration of results from point-of-care diagnostics will further enhance flexible patient care.

The global point-of-care diagnostics market was valued at $4.3 billion in 2011 and is forecast to reach $7 billion by 2018, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7 percent during 2011-2018. The U.S. point-of-care diagnostics alone was valued at $1.8 billion in 2011, and is expected to reach a value of $3 billion by 2018, demonstrating a CAGR of 8 percent.

Read more about the report here

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