COVID-19 and rapid diagnostics

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, terms like PCR and Rapid Antigen Tests were the domain of medical professionals, and seldom used in conversation by the general public.

Mandatory isolation requirements (lockdowns) demonstrated the importance of patients being able to monitor and manage their acute conditions, such as COVID-19, from home.

Point-of-care testing (PoCT) offers the convenience of performing an In Vitro Diagnostic (IVD) test (meaning "the examination of specimens derived from the human body") in the comfort of their own homes.

The value of PoCT was further reinforced when access to hospitals and pathology collection centres was complicated, by the risk of transmitting COVID-19 to immunocompromised patients. In particular, this affected a population of Australian children with congenital or childhood-acquired heart disease (HeartKids).

Roche and HeartKids Limited

For various medical reasons, some children with congenital or childhood-acquired heart disease are required to take Warfarin, an anticoagulant.

The medication prevents the formation of blood clots, which is beneficial to their condition but can cause complications when children experience cuts and grazes. Given the potency of Warfarin as an anticoagulant, children must test their blood regularly, to monitor their INR value (International Normalized Ratio) to ensure they remain in the therapeutic range.

The relationship between Roche and HeartKids Limited dates back some 20 years, when Professor Paul Monagle from The Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne was looking to help children who had heart surgery monitor their INR in their own homes.

Roche conducted the first CoaguChek® S system trial in 2002, with a number of HeartKids children. The CoaguChek® S system PoCT device offered a small drop of blood via finger prick with minimal trauma, eliminating discomfort from venepuncture. The CoaguChek® S system proved to be a convenient, portable, and user-friendly device for monitoring warfarin therapy. It determines the INR value from a drop of capillary whole blood – simple, precise, and reliable. "These children are on warfarin for the rest of their lives. They needed to feel confident with a device and trust the system's accuracy, hence, they chose the  CoaguChek® S system" said Professor Paul Monagle.

Roche donates CoaguChek® INRange systems to HeartKids
Roche supports HeartKids again in 2023

HeartKids Limited was founded some 30 years ago, by a handful of families who had encountered the wide range of emotions associated with having a child with congenital heart disease (CHD). Their mission sees them continue to enhance the lives and futures of those affected by congenital heart disease by providing high-quality, compassionate support, information, and advocacy, as well as by fostering world-class research.

In July 2023, Roche Diagnostics Australia welcomed the current Chief Executive Officer of HeartKids Limited, Lesley Jordan, into our offices to present our latest annual donation of more than a dozen CoaguChek® INRange system PoCT devices and the supply of associated test strips.

In Lesley's words, Roche's donation will "help ease the cost of living burden and stress for families and allow them to manage their CHD practically, anytime and anywhere they need."

The donation marked a partnership of more than 20 years between Roche Diagnostics Australia and HeartKids Limited, which has seen Roche support various fundraising initiatives by HeartKids, including the annual Be a Hero For HeartKids Day and the Be a Sweetheart for Sweetheart Day morning tea.

Allison Rossiter, Managing Director of Roche Diagnostics Australia, added, "COVID-19 has been tough on Australians, and now cost-of-living increases are putting new pressure on HeartKids’ families. Today, Roche is pleased to help reduce these costs, as well as the stress and hassle experienced by HeartKids and their families, by making it easier to manage CHD at home."

PoCT and the value of diagnostics

The practicality of PoCT devices means they can be used in the patient's home or a nearby medical centre and are typically found in emergency rooms, ambulances, rural healthcare settings, and patients homes.

Point-of-care tests produce rapid, reliable results that aid in the identification and monitoring of acute infections or chronic diseases.

Rapid antigen tests, pregnancy tests, blood glucose metres (for diabetes), and INR metres (for cardiovascular conditions), are just a few familiar examples of tests that provide immediate diagnostic or monitoring results, without sending samples to a central laboratory.

Evidence suggests that patient self-testing can reduce anxiety and provide a sense of control. Engaging patients in their own therapy can empower them to modify their lifestyles (Reference 1).

Roche Diagnostics Australia has been meeting with healthcare professionals across Australia at various National conferences to showcase our range of PoCT devices.

Over the last 12 months, we have been meeting GP practice owners at The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) national conference, Nurse practitioners at the Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA), cardiologists at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand, and pharmacy professionals at The Australian Pharmacy Professional Conference & Trade Exhibition.

Reference 1 - Ward A, Tompson A, Fitzmaurice D, Sutton S, Perera R, Heneghan C. Cohort study of Anticoagulation Self-Monitoring (CASM): a prospective

COAGUCHEK and INRANGE are trademarks of Roche.