2. Point-of-Care Testing

Point-of-Care Testing

2. Point-of-Care Testing

Point-of-care refers to testing outside of a centralized laboratory and has a variety of potential applications for screening and diagnosis. Common tests already in use include those used for blood glucose monitoring, home pregnancy tests, and assays for detecting infectious diseases.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic spurred substantial uptake of COVID-19 tests that can rapidly and accurately provide results at or near the point-of-care. This growth in uptake also led to greater awareness about how such tests may be applied across different aspects of medicine.

The emergence and integration of point-of-care testing has the potential to ease demand on central laboratories, provide timely guidance about treatment decisions, and support public health efforts in disease control and surveillance. Many point-of-care tests can be performed without specialized training and in a variety of care settings, including primary and urgent care settings. They can also be used in non-clinical settings and at home by end-users (self-testing). This flexibility allows for a higher degree of convenience for the end-user and potential cost-savings for health systems because point-of-care testing tends to be less expensive compared with laboratory testing.


Potential barriers that are important to consider for enabling expansion of point-of-care testing in different settings may include the need to facilitate interprofessional collaboration, determining the role of tests within clinical workflows, and ensuring equitable access.

Examples of emerging point-of-care testing in Canada include: