• governance;
  • i-STAT;
  • point-of-care;
  • remote;
  • satisfaction


Objective: The objective of the study was to improve pathology services in selected remote health centres from the Northern Territory (NT) through the implementation of a quality managed point-of-care pathology testing (POCT) service.

Design: Study of the efficacy of the POCT service after 1 year and qualitative survey of POCT device operators.

Setting: The study was set in thirty-three remote health centres in the NT administered by the NT Department of Health.

Participants: Remote health centre staff at participating remote health centres participated in the study.

Interventions: The introduction of the i-STAT device to perform on-site POCT.

Main outcome measures: The main outcome measures used in the study were the number of remote staff trained, volume of testing performed and satisfaction of POCT device operators.

Results: One hundred and sixty-four health professional staff were trained to perform i-STAT POCT during the first year of the program. A total of 2290 POCT tests were performed on the i-STAT. The volume of testing consistently increased across the year. Tests for international normalised ratio were the most frequently performed (averaging 70 tests per month). Stakeholder satisfaction with the i-STAT device was high, with a statistically significant improvement in satisfaction levels with pathology service provision being reported after the introduction of POCT. Greater than 80% of respondents stated POCT was more convenient than the laboratory service and assisted in the stabilisation of acutely ill patients.

Conclusions: The NT POCT Program has been operationally effective and well received by staff working as i-STAT POCT operators in remote health centres. Retention of remote health centre staff is the most significant challenge to ensuring the program's long-term viability.