Industry News: Siemens DCA Vantage Analyser providing rapid and accurate HbA1c results in pharmacy point of care testing project

12 Nov 2008

Ten pharmacies in the Stockport area have been supplied with Siemens DCA Vantage Analysers in order to offer an HbA1c test to appropriate diabetes patients, as part of a pharmacy Point of Care testing project. The project, which began in May of this year, aims to show that an HbA1c monitoring service can be provided from community pharmacies in an efficient and convenient manner, thereby improving access and choice for diabetes patients. It also aims to offer a pharmacy based diagnostics support service to patients who do not attend GP practices.

Project lead, Robert Hallworth explains, “We have always been very proactive in Stockport with respect to developing pharmacy staff and the services they provide. We all agree that pharmacies should be doing more with medicines than purely dispensing them, and that they have a role in managing medicines and providing support to patients.”

“The HbA1c project is not about duplicating services that are already provided,” he continues. “Patients that are tested should be those who don’t attend their GP practice, or those who may find the pharmacy more convenient. These patients may otherwise be lost to the GP and, therefore, adversely impact on the GP’s QOF (quality and outcome framework) targets. If they are tested in the pharmacy, however, and results fed back to the GP, records will more complete, targets are more likely to be met and overall disease management should be better.”

The pharmacies participating have good relationships with local GPs; have consultation rooms; and span a good geographical spread across the Primary Care Trust (PCT). Participation in the project enables the pharmacy to offer a value added service that may increase footfall. In addition, the test can be linked with a ‘medicines use review’, for which the pharmacist is remunerated.

The DCA Vantage Analyser has been found to be ideal for the task, offering speed and ease of use. Training sessions for pharmacy staff have been held in conjunction with Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics.

“We selected the DCA Vantage Analyser following our experiences with the DCA 2000 system, which was used in a Greater Manchester Point of Care Testing Project and gave very good external quality assurance results,” concludes Robert Hallworth. “The enclosed-cartridge system is easy to use and ensures a low risk of contamination with body fluids. Results are available in just 7 minutes, which is fast but gives the pharmacist a chance to discuss the patient's medicines while they are waiting. The DCA Vantage Analyser can also be used to test for microalbuminuria, which is a service we may wish to expand into in the future.”