Physician office lab (POL) term is wide and diverse, it encompasses physician’s practices as small (2 to 5 doctors) to large practitioners (200 physicians) that operate labs similar to small laboratory hospitals. Hospitals and commercial labs perform tests, but physicians prefer to perform in-house testing in order to enhance the patient care. In-house testing facilitates physicians to no longer rely on the reference labs for test results. In addition, physicians can obtain faster results from their own labs and increase profits. POL also reduces the chances of loss or deterioration of the sample. Therefore, definition of POL is broad and it refers to the test performed in: physician office setting, provides a result during medical visit, conducted at the time of consultation or with other healthcare professional and is used for diagnosis, screening or monitoring purposes.
In addition global market for POL’s is increasing owing to rise in infectious diseases and the associated public health issues with increasing cardiovascular and other chronic conditions. Moreover, increasing trends of preventive medicine and proactive approach in treating the increasing number of diabetic patients is also accentuating the market size.
Advancements in technology is favoring the market growth, as new microelectronic and microfluidic instruments that are small, easy to use and offer excellent quality and control. The compact size of many lab instruments has made POL feasible for even smaller offices and has enabled some physician to even perform test for other doctors. Therefore, physicians who want to access the test results immediately are setting up POL’s.
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North America represents the largest market where number of POL’s grew from 95,069 in 2000 to 111,000 in 2010. The FDA has approved many tests such as spun microhematocrit, monitoring instruments, nonautomated testing for erythrocyte sedimentation and other various tests. In addition there are more than 9 tests which are yet to be approved by FDA.
POL’s streamlines the doctors testing procedure by reducing time, increase patient efficiency and also positively impact staff efficiency. POL also provides fast turn around time of results and hence enables review of results face to face with the patient. All these factors collectively contribute to the growth of POL’s testing market.
Some of the key players in POL market include 3D Medical Diagnostics, Accumetrics, Biomerica, Inc., Nanosphere, Inc. and other significant players.