‘Lab in a bag’ will transform the way we care for patients

imageNHS England is backing the development of a groundbreaking mobile diagnostics service that will deliver laboratory standard test results outside of hospital and allow patients to be diagnosed and treated at the point of care.

The Labkit® Near Patient Diagnostics service is a portable bag containing devices capable of producing a range of patient test results including white blood cell count, hemoglobin, glucose, blood gases, electrolytes and urinalysis. Outcomes are captured electronically and can be transferred remotely and securely to the pathology laboratory at the patient’s local hospital, opening up new possibilities for how care is delivered.

For the first time, clinicians will have the power to make sophisticated diagnoses on the move, allowing them to identify problems and treat patients more effectively in the community, in GP practices and even in their homes.

Mike Bewick, Deputy Medical Director for NHS England, said: “Treating more patients outside of hospital is a key priority for the NHS going forward.  Point of care testing devices will grant doctors, nurses and care staff the freedom to diagnose and treat patients in any setting, and are a major step forward in helping us to achieve our ambition of delivering care where it’s most wanted: closer to home.”

Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, said: “Attending the launch and demonstration of the prototype labkit bag was extremely interesting.  It’s clearly a fantastic example of the type of innovation which can come about when medical experts and industry professionals collaborate.  Improving diagnostics and the transference of crucial data on a patient to hospitals and GPs swiftly and at the point of being attended to by a paramedic can only bring about positive shifts which should, in turn, determine more quickly the right care pathway and possibly even save lives. I congratulate all involved and look forward to hearing more about the outcomes of the trial.”

The Labkit® is the result of a collaboration between Surrey Pathology Services (a joint venture involving Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, and the Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust); the South East Coast Ambulance Service; the Ministry of Defence Hospital Unit at Frimley Park and Conworx Technology, supported by funding from NHS England.

The initial phase of the Labkit® trial began in December 2014 in two local sites. During this period, point of care testing was performed and the results captured, but these were not used for the clinical management of patients. The kit has been closely monitored and audited by biomedical scientists from Surrey Pathology Services with support from military biomedical science colleagues from the Frimley Ministry of Defence Hospital Unit, and it has gathered positive feedback both from patients and paramedics.

The next stage of the project will begin later this year and will see the service used in clinical settings, with a full roll out expected in early 2016. The launch of this product will result in more convenient care for patients and faster and better health outcomes.

Shared with permission of Mike Bewick, Deputy Medical Director for NHS England
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