The use of point-of-care testing (PoCT) diagnostics in community pharmacy could “improve antibiotic stewardship and relieve pressure from GPs”, British public services think tank Reform said in a report published last month (September 18).
PoCT is already being used in some community pharmacies. As part of NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I)’s urinary tract infection (UTI) pilot last year, 38 pharmacies offered a free at-home urine test kit to patients with UTI symptoms. Under the pilot, patients were encouraged to return to the pharmacy for a consultation to help them analyse the results.
Clinical skills training
However, if a PoCT model like the one trialled by NHSE&I were to be expanded, community pharmacists would need training to help them understand “the different tests available, collect specimens, interpret contradictory results and appropriately triage patients”, according to the think tank.
Community pharmacists would also need “ongoing training and skills-building” to manage patients’ expectations about the use of antibiotics and educate them on how to prevent infections.
“A training programme focused on PoCT diagnostics, antimicrobial stewardship and communication skills on antibiotic use could help achieve this,” Reform said.
The use of PoCT can help clinicians understand when antibiotics are necessary, Reform said, calling on NHSE&I to commission a “national assessment of point-of-care-diagnostics”.
Antimicrobial stewardship is one of the criteria in the second part of the Pharmacy Quality Scheme (PQS), which formally goes live today (October 1).
Pharmacy contractors who meet this PQS domain will need to show that both registered and non-registered pharmacy professionals working at their premises have completed the Public Health England Antimicrobial stewardship for community pharmacy e-learning and e-assessment.
An antimicrobial stewardship action plan for the pharmacy should also be available “at premises level”, according to the PQS.