Point-of-care diagnostic technology in paediatric ambulatory care: a qualitative interview study of English clinicians and stakeholders.
Raymond ME., Bird C., van Hecke O., Glogowska M., Hayward G.
Point-of-care (POC) tests have the potential to improve paediatric healthcare. However, both the development and evaluation of POC technology have almost solely been focused on adults. We aimed to explore frontline clinicians' and stakeholders' current experience of POC diagnostic technology in children in England; and to identify areas of unmet need. DESIGN, SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Qualitative semistructured telephone interviews were carried out with purposively sampled participants from clinical paediatric ambulatory care and charity, industry and policymaking stakeholders. The interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and analysed thematically. RESULTS: We interviewed 19 clinicians and 8 stakeholders. The main perceived benefits of POC tests and technologies were that they aided early decision-making and could be convenient and empowering when used independently by patients and families. Clinicians and stakeholders wanted more POC tests to be available for use in clinical practice. Most recognised that play and reward are important components of successful POC tests for children. Clinicians wanted tests to give them answers, which would result in a change in their clinical management. Detecting acute serious illness, notably distinguishing viral and bacterial infection, was perceived to be an area where tests could add value. POC tests were thought to be particularly useful for children presenting atypically, where diagnosis was more challenging, such as those less able to communicate, and for rare serious diseases. Many participants felt they could be useful in managing chronic disease. CONCLUSIONS: This exploratory study found that clinicians and stakeholders supported the use of diagnostic POC technology in paediatric ambulatory care settings in England. Some existing tests are not fit for purpose and could be refined. Industry should be encouraged to develop new child-friendly tests tackling areas of unmet need, guided by the preferred characteristics of those working on the ground.