Guest: Peter Merrilees
Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Guest Bio: Peter is the Medical Business Unit Manager at Point of Care Diagnostics Pty Ltd. He has a strong background in the health and medical industries with over 20 years’ experience, the last 12 of which has been specifically focused on Point of Care Testing (PoCT). Peter is on the IVD Australia Working Group for PoCT and is truly passionate about this field. He has a background in business and marketing and has just finished studying Biotechnology at RMIT University.
Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Segment, Peter Merrilees from the Point of Care Diagnostics joins us today to introduce their wide range of diagnostic products. Launched in 1995, POCD has become a leader in point of care testing in both Australia and New Zealand with many of their products the industry standard in their disciplines. Their customers include top health companies, hospitals and medical research institutions.
Health Professional Radio
Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio with Wayne Bucklar. Today my guest is Peter Merrilees. Peter is the medical business unit manager with Point of Care Diagnostics in Sydney, Australia. Peter welcome to Health Professional Radio.
Peter Merrilees: Thanks for having me on Wayne.
W: My pleasure. Now Peter Point of Care Diagnostics is not a name that immediately tells me what you do. Can you give us some idea of what’s your geographical footprint is and what’s your range of products and services are?
P: Absolutely. Well geographically, Point of Care Diagnostics is a distribution company that covers all of Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Island Region including Papua New Guinea. The company is divided up into a few sections, our primary business is providing point of care testing equipment. So these are blood, urine, respiratory tests that provide results on-the-spot as opposed to the traditional laboratory pathways that may take a day or two to return results. And we also supply some products through laboratory and hospital markets as well and direct into pistology or pathology labs.
W: I see and those product are intended for clinicians’ use or are they a patient used product?
P: Primarily clinician used. There are some products that come across over into the home testing market, but no we tend to focus primarily on the professional market. And I guess the real driving interest comes from our regional and rural areas where perhaps service is a little bit slower or not as complete as in the cities.
W: There has been a remarkable development in putting I guess let me call “smart technology” into disposable and portable devices over the last well 10 years, 20 years, 30 years. What used to take a laboratory and three people and maybe a live rabbit is much now much simpler in some cases.
P: Absolutely. We’ve got a small sign of that, we’ve got a device here we can use 2.4 microfluidic of blood for about a very similar size to a blood glucose meter and you can get a complete blood count in less than a minute. So platelets, red cells, white cells, differential, everything and from that tiny sample – microfluidics has come of age if the application’s asked there.
W: That’s really quite remarkable, isn’t it? And these are devices that have their own self-contained smarts on board?
P: They do, yeah. A lot of the manufacturers will develop it with some IT management systems built into the device so that connect it to a PC and you can manage and manipulate the data as you wish. Some of these are still stand-alone programs at the moment but a lot of the integrating into the general, clinical desktops that clinicians use so you know Medical Director, Best Practice, etc. And so we’re finding the connectivity is finding useful not just a feature but a real benefit.
W: That’s a step that had to happen sooner or later in the health profession. It’s nice to know it’s happening now.
P: It is, it is. And it’s making small things can make significant differences, just being able to move some tests out of the lab and into the patient’s side with a clinician using it means that the results come back within a time that it’s actually worth treating. Some of your information markers and anecdotally, some of the stories we get back are life changing.
W: I can believe that. You’re listening to Health Professional Radio with Wayne Bucklar. My guest today is Peter Merrilees. He is a medical business unit manager for Point of Care Diagnostics and we’ve been talking about the way some of the diagnostic devices that learned to talk, learned to communicate and become available at point of care in very impressive ways. Now Peter, many of our audience are clinicians and a lot of them work in acute care and hospital settings. What’s the message that you would like them to take away as a result of our chat today?
P: I guess what we find are the clinicians that see the problems in their work place or the obstacles and look for answers are the ones that tend to take on these new technologies and get the most benefit out of them. So it can be as simple as not having to wait for an urgent cardiac marker as getting troponin on the spot or even being able to measure someone’s anti-coagulation prior to dentist procedures. Little things like that can be done and should be done at the point of care.
W: Umm. That’s measuring things like coagulation is interesting. In my very limited clinical head can see lots of uses for that straight away.
P: Absolutely and I think INR testing, the measure for patients taking warfarin, anti-coagulant therapy was probably one of the biggest turning points in the adaption or adoption I should say of point of care testing in professional setting. GP’s around the country being able to monitor and manage the INR patients on-the-spot, dosage adjustment, lifestyle advice. And with a reasonably, affordable way as seeing their minds and I guess their practices opening up to this technology a lot more.
W: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio, my guest today is Peter Merrilees medical business unit manager of Point of Care Diagnostics. Peter my favorite question, in every industry there are misconceptions. What’s the biggest misconception amongst your clients, customers, patients that drive you nuts and keep you awake at night?
P: I guess there are a couple of misconceptions that we tend that are really really frequently. Number 1 is that being point of care test means that it’s not reliable, that sometimes it’s just a random number generator in some people’s minds.
W: Uh huh.
P: Technology has changed. You have these devices using the same exact methodology as a central laboratory but using microfluidics to do it in a compact size. So there is no reason to suppose that the results from these devices are in some instances aren’t as good as laboratory accurate. And I guess the other one is that whether it’son our devices, whether it’s through laboratory or whether it’s through someone else’s, blood test are fantastic but they are not 100% right every time. Your blood is not homogenous throughout the body – there are pre-analytical, analytical, post-analytical variable that can affect results. So results are very good but they’re not 100% accurate. So when we compare two methods, we need to keep that in mind that they’ll be very very similar but not always the same.
W: Peter with a little bit of luck, we can help with those misconceptions this morning amongst our listeners. Thank you for your time today, it’s been a pleasure talking to you. How can people get in touch with you Peter?
P: We have offices in most states of Australia but probably just calling our free call number 1800 640 075 would be the easiest.
W: Now every time I do phone numbers Peter, I get calls saying “You didn’t give us enough warning.” So fair warning listeners, we’ll get the number again from Peter. What was the number again Peter?
P: It’s 1800 640 075.
W: And I guess for people who are either not near a phone or outside the country, your website would be the way to at www.pocd.com.au.
P: That’s correct. Thanks Wayne.
W: Thanks Peter, thanks for joining us this morning. Listeners if you just joined us this morning, you’ve just missed my conversation with Peter Merrilees the medical business unit manager with Point of Care Diagnostics. However, the good news is we have a transcript on our website, we have a SoundCloud archive and you can find the interview on YouTube as well that’s at www.hpr.fm. This is Wayne Bucklar for Health Professional Radio.