Background: Point-of-care tests (POCT) measure analytes close to the patients and are a complementary supplement to the test menu of medical laboratories. However, the involvement of many different stakeholders makes it challenging to ensure reliable results.
Methods: In a survey, we asked experienced POCT users how they control their total POCT process and what factors they consider essential for success. Results were verified in four in-depth interviews.
Results: Overall, 73 German participants from various medical disciplines completed the survey. All but one participant regarded operator training as important but only half of the participants’ institutions conducted operator training on a regular basis. Participants often requested e-learning, but face-to-face teaching is still preferred. Twenty-one percent of participants already used e-learning and reported mixed satisfaction. Fifty-five percent of the participants never refer to the quality management manual. Instead, 94% stated that if a POCT error arises a contact person for POCT is always available at their workplace. The majority of participants think that external and, in particular, internal quality controls are important for POCT. Only a few difficulties for performing quality control such as “temporal expenditure” and “lack of information about the importance of internal quality control” were commonly mentioned. For future developments, participants expect evolution and improvements especially with regard to “measurement quality and reliability”. The answers of the experts in the in-depth interviews largely corresponded with the participants of the survey.
Conclusions: The importance of operator training is well established and confirmed in this work. How to conduct this training is less certain, but the answers in this survey suggest some form of blended learning with e-learning and practical elements. The discrepancy between the high importance that guidelines and other normative documents place on written information and their low practical usage was striking.