One of the most influential moves in the healthcare sector is the recent development of point-of-care solutions. The main goal is to allow patients to get on-demand healthcare outside the hospital, mainly through medical devices and apps. In addition to being an important source of patient data, these solutions improve patients' experiences by enabling diagnostic testing at the point of care and providing patients with faster results, keeping non-critical patients away from emergency rooms and – most importantly – reducing costs and increasing efficiency in primary care.

Pharmacies and drugstores have played a significant role in pursuing this trend, as point-of-care technology tends to be considered a consumer health commodity. Point-of-care technology currently covers a wide range of needs and diseases, such as genomic testing, blood glucose testing, arterial blood gases and electrolytes analysis, coagulation testing, cardiac markers diagnostics, drug screening, urine and pregnancy testing, infectious disease testing and cholesterol screening.

Such technologies are also likely to have a significant positive effect in the Brazilian public health system by making diagnostic testing accessible in areas where healthcare is hard to access.

Further, some countries are on the verge of allowing drones to deliver drugs, blood bags and biological samples – and maybe even providing urgent assistance for heart conditions.

In addition to these developments, other initiatives have been introduced which follow the point-of-care trend but do not necessarily involve extensive technological investment. For example, on December 26 2017 the Brazilian National Surveillance Agency published Resolution 197, allowing any health facility to carry out vaccinations, including pharmacies and drugstores. Following the resolution, a federal directive was issued which provides local authorities with objective and standard good practice guidelines for vaccination.

The new resolution provides more clarity and legal certainty in relation to minimum requirements, including:

  • the licensing and registration of vaccination services with the National Registry of Health Establishments;
  • displaying the national vaccination calendar and available vaccines;
  • registering a pharmacist qualified to administer injections; and
  • continuous vaccine administration training for healthcare professionals.

Initiatives like the ones listed above not only increase access to healthcare, but also aim to reduce individuals' hesitancy surrounding vaccination and therefore combating the drop in vaccination rates (84% compared to the expected coverage rate of 95% as proposed by the World Health Organisation) – recent phenomena that public health authorities are working hard to address.

For further information on this topic please contact Elysangela de Oliveira Rabelo at TozziniFreire Advogados by telephone (+55 11 50 86 50 00) or email (erabelo@tozzinifreire.com.br). The TozziniFreire Advogados website can be accessed at www.tozzinifreire.com.br.

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