A paper published in the journal BMJ Open examines if the use of point of care testing is less costly than laboratory testing to the National Health Service (NHS) in delivering the NHS Health Check programme in primary. To address this question, we carried out an observational study, supplemented by a mathematical model with a micro-costing approach.
We collected data on cost, volume and type of pathology services performed at seven general practices using point of care testing and a pathology services laboratory. We collected data on response to the NHS Health Check invitation letter and DNA rates from two general practices.
We found that the costs of using point of care testing to deliver a routine NHS Health Check is lower than the laboratory-led pathway; with savings of £29 per 100 invited patients up the point of cardiovascular disease risk score presentation. Use of point of care testing can deliver NHS Health Check in one sitting, whereas the laboratory pathway offers patients several opportunities to miss an appointment.
We concluded that the costs of using point of care testing to deliver an NHS Health Check in the primary care setting is lower than the laboratory-led pathway. Using point of care testing minimises non-attendance rates associated with laboratory testing and enables completion of NHS Health Check in one appointment.