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Real-World Data, Point-of-Care Testing Reshaping Healthcare, Detecting Diseases Sooner

NetworkNewsWire Editorial Coverage: Today it seems almost unimaginable to wait days or weeks for results from a blood test, but that was the case only a few decades ago. Automated equipment, portable devices and medical innovation have underscored a healthcare evolution that allows for faster diagnoses and subsequent treatment to improve patient outcomes. Innovation remains at the heart of healthcare, keeping up with the times as doctors, patients and insurance companies now expect near-instant results that detect disease at earlier and earlier stages, sometimes even before symptoms present. Early detection and screening have been proven to save lives and billions of dollars, lending to the rise of point-of-care testing (“POCT”), a nascent industry seeing exciting potential. POCT is the wheelhouse for Avricore Health Inc. (TSX.V: AVCR) (OTCQB: AVCRF) (Profile), whose turnkey POCT-solution-branded HealthTab(TM) delivers real-time results, with the new technology currently being evaluated at leading pharmacies in Canada with North American expansion planned for the future. Harnessing the power of real-world data is an essential piece of the next generation of medical technology as companies such as Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT), Roche Holding AG ADR (OTCQX: RHHBY), IQVIA Holdings Inc. (NYSE: IQV) and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (NASDAQ: WBA) look to remain stewards in helping people live longer, healthier lives.

  • The global point-of-care diagnostics market size is projected to reach an estimated $81.37 billion by 2028.
  • Avricore Health has started commercialization of HealthTab, a fully automated, turnkey point-of-care testing system capable of scanning for up to 23 key biomarkers related to chronic and infectious diseases.
  • Avricore has significant partners, including a pilot program running in Shopper’s Drug Mart and an agreement to use Abbott’s Afinion(TM) 2 and ID NOW(TM).
  • The Shopper’s program has been expanded from 11 to 15 stores with an emphasis on care for diabetes, a disease that affects one in three Canadians.

A Surge in Demand for POCT

According to Fortune Business Insights, the global point-of-care diagnostics market size is projected to reach an estimated $81.37 billion by 2028, up from $34.49 billion in 2020, representing a CAGR of 9.4% between 2021 and 2028. There are several factors driving growth including rising demand for rapid screening for chronic and infectious diseases, technological advancements to rapidly identify biomarkers outside of the laboratory setting and large investments by key players, among other things.

As noted by Deloitte, insurers, healthcare providers, life sciences companies and governments are challenged with rising costs and inconsistent outcomes. This wends way to demand for real-world evidence to play a bigger role in study and monitoring because it is more accurate and is more cost efficient. Furthermore, there is a paradigm shift ongoing in healthcare related to the patient mentality: younger generations are no longer passive about their health journey, becoming increasingly proactive and expecting data-driven care.

And then there are pharmacies, which are under pressure from all angles — regulators, competition and industry — and need to generate additional revenue, which points squarely at adding services catering to the above market drivers. That’s where Avricore Health Inc. (TSX.V: AVCR) (OTCQB: AVCRF) specializes, as a pharmacy service innovator focused on acquiring and developing early-stage technologies aimed at moving pharmacy forward. The Vancouver-based company’s wholly owned HealthTab(TM) subsidiary is commercializing an eponymous product that is unlike anything in pharmacies today. The solution is part of AVCR’s mission to make actionable health information more accessible to all by creating the world’s largest network of rapid-testing devices in community pharmacies.

HealthTab is a fully automated, turnkey point-of-care testing system that includes a blood chemistry analyzer, consumer facing touchscreen with user questionnaires and consent collection, as well as software with both end-user and backend interfaces. It combines best-in-class, point-of-care technologies with a secure, cloud-based platform that, with only a few drops of blood from a finger prick or nasal swab to generate lab-accurate results in real time at any pharmacy. Currently, the system tests for up to 23 key biomarkers for screening and managing chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease as well as testing for bacteria and viruses.

Avricore has premier partners with the system using the Abaxis Piccolo Express(TM) and the Abbott Afinion to generate test results. Avricore first signed an agreement with Abbott on in May 2021 for use of its Afinion 2 and associated tests for diabetes and heart disease screening in Canada. In July the agreement was amended to add Abbott’s popular ID NOW(TM) molecular testing device, which will add onsite testing and reporting capabilities for SARS-CoV-2 as well as RSV, influenza A and B, and strep.

COVID-19 Accelerates Trend

For nearly two years, the world has been staggering from the COVID-19 pandemic with no real end in sight as new variants crop up and vaccines, while capable of arresting any symptoms, fail to stop contraction or transmission of the coronavirus. The resilient virus has permanently changed many things in the world, including the diagnostics space and a transition to primary care outside of the hospital or doctor’s office.

Considering that it is becoming clearer that late presentation of COVID-19 symptoms is directly associated with increased mortality, the need to reimage disease epidemiology with new screening tools has come front and center. Early detection is a primary goal in nearly every disease and condition today to improve care and contain costs.

Against the backdrop of this paradigm shift, HealthTab(TM) is being rolled out in leading pharmacies throughout Canada. Following successful beta testing in July (90 patients with more than 600 test results), patient testing in a pilot program began in August of the HealthTab platform in select Shoppers Drug Mart(R), a business of food giant Loblaw Companies and the largest pharmacy chain in Canada with more than 1,300 locations.  Frank Hack, director of complex care at Shoppers Drug Mart, summed up the opportunity for HealthTab in saying, “We are committed to improving access to care through our pharmacy network and enabling our pharmacists to drive improved patient outcomes by providing value added patient care services.”

Diabetes: A Perfect Target for Mass Acceptance

Shoppers started the pilot program at 11 retail locations and quickly increased it to 15, with a focus on prediabetes and diabetes patients. Within the HealthTab system, Abbott’s Afinion 2 diagnostic is used to define the HbA1c (glucose) level in a patient’s blood, with HealthTab taking care of the rest to better inform the pharmacist and patient when and if further action needs to be taken.

Diabetes is arguably one of the most costly and common diseases on the planet. It is estimated that approximately 463 million people had diabetes in 2019, a number that is expected to rise to 700 million by 2045. In Canada, diabetes affects one in three people, with an average day seeing 20 Canadians die from diabetes-related complications, 480 more being diagnosed and 14 suffering lower-limb amputations. Early detection through monitoring HbA1c levels is critical in managing diabetes and its litany of comorbidities, such as amputations, stroke, cardiovascular disease and kidney failure. A proactive approach like that of HealthTab is a welcome addition to the tool chest to fight the disease.

A Win All the Way Around

Avricore Health earns revenues from a variety of streams via the HealthTab platform. These include equipment leasing, sales of real-world data sets, consumables, API integration (Software as a Service) and screening tests. The fully customizable platform allows Avricore to tailor make programs specific to a client’s needs in different jurisdictions throughout the world. Furthermore, the in-pharmacy network allows Avricore to offer the world’s first permanent network of real-world evidence deidentifying data-collecting analyzers to researchers to continue to innovate with the added perk of decentralized clinical trials.

HealthTab is a big win for patients and pharmacies alike. Pharmacists can generate additional revenue while playing a more prominent role in primary care delivery. Following the trend towards self-care and data-backed treatment plans, patients are empowered to take more control of their health, with a pharmacist right there for support and guidance. This goes without mentioning the significant reductions in healthcare costs for patients and payers, including already strained government systems and a higher quality of life for patients by catching any number of potentially deadly maladies at earlier stages.

POCT and Big Data: The Evolution of Healthcare

Companies big and small are pioneering different types of innovation to quickly advance POCT, an opportunity born out of necessity. COVID-19 may have put a spotlight on the market, but the trend was already in the works — the pandemic just expedited the inevitable.

A leader in POCT, Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) delivers more than one billion tests worldwide, resulting in shortened treatment times and improved outcomes. For example, HIV patients who were tested with a POC device received antiretroviral therapy (“ART”) treatment 130 days faster than those diagnosed with the help of a traditional lab. In addition, heart-failure patients who received a POC test were discharged from the hospital three days sooner than those who didn’t have the advantage of POC testing, improving both economic and healthcare outcomes.

Roche Holding AG ADR (OTCQX: RHHBY) has a POCT goal to provide products that help healthcare professionals and patients alike achieve improved clinical and health-economic outcomes. The company does this by delivering robust, connected, easy-to-use POC solutions outside the central lab, providing immediate results and allowing treatment decisions to be made more quickly, both inside and outside of the hospital. Roche Point of Care delivers those solutions meeting the clinical need for quick and accurate test results delivered where needed and when needed, whether on a device, in the electronic healthcare record, to the clinician on the move or directly to the patient.

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (NASDAQ: WBA) is actively supporting POCT with its free, contactless COVID-19 testing for patents age three and up at locations across the country. The company has a century-old reputation for innovating and is dedicated to providing pharmacy and health and wellness services in communities across America. The company has a strong digital platform and its Walgreens Find Care platform offers telehealth service providers, connecting patients and customers with options to access convenient and affordable care from their mobile device.

IQVIA Holdings Inc. (NYSE: IQV) supports healthcare with its Real World Data technology, which provides a combination of clinically rich data, advanced analytics; and human knowledge throughout the clinical development pathway. Real World Data can be used for many different objectives across the drug-development lifecycle from development to after commercialization. With this data, studies can start sooner, drugs can get to market faster and patient safety can be firmly established.

Innovation in data, development, equipment and accessibility have fueled the evolution that is reshaping healthcare and enabling faster diagnoses and treatment as well as improved patient care. The movement is saving lives and money — both indescribable benefits that will undoubtedly ensure continued growth and progress moving forward.

For more information about Avricore Health Inc., please visit Avricore Health Inc.

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