The Importance of Point of Care Testing for Clozapine WBC Monitoring

  • PixCell Medical
  • 31 May 2023

Clozapine is the most effective antipsychotic for patients with treatment-resistant schizophrenia. Clozapine is also approved by the FDA for treatment of suicidality, has a variety of off-label uses, and has been shown as remarkably cost-effective in recent studies. However, despite its benefits, clozapine is largely underutilized due to risk of causing severe neutropenia or agranulocytosis resulting in special monitoring requirements and prescriber lack of confidence.

Traditionally, laboratory testing has been used to monitor white blood count cell (WBC) and Absolute Neutrophils Count (ANC) levels for psychiatric patients on clozapine. However, new advances in point-of-care (POC) testing offers more accessible and immediate monitoring of these parameters representing a more efficient and reliable alternative that still provides the necessary accuracy and specificity needed.

In this blog, we will explore the importance of POC testing for clozapine ANC and WBC monitoring and how it can improve patient outcomes, enhance patient comfort, and streamline clinical workflow.

Faster Results and Early Intervention

One of the key advantages of POC testing is its ability to deliver rapid results, often within minutes. This early detection and rapid response capability lead to better patient outcomes and overall quality of care.

Health practitioners must monitor for changes in the clozapine patient’s absolute neutrophil count (ANC). While mild neutropenia generally does not require intervention, severe neutropenia can be fatal due to the increased risk of serious infections.

With immediate access to a psychiatric patient’s WBC and ANC count, healthcare providers can detect neutropenia at an early stage and intervene promptly to manage the patient’s condition before it progresses to agranulocytosis or infections.

With POC testing, healthcare providers receive this information in real-time, eliminating the delays associated with transporting blood samples and waiting for laboratory results. The physician can make an immediate, on-the-spot adjustment to the patient’s care plan. Timely intervention may involve adjusting the dosage of clozapine, administering supportive treatments, or temporarily discontinuing the medication.

Improved Patient Compliance

HemoScreen analyzer

Due to the risk of neutropenia, frequent blood testing is required for patients on clozapine. The first 18 weeks of treatment require weekly blood samples, followed by bi-weekly and monthly testing. This can be time-consuming and inconvenient for patients, as well as physically taxing due to the need for venous blood draws.

POC testing streamlines this process by providing faster, easier access to test results. Patients no longer need to schedule separate appointments for blood tests, as POC testing can be performed during their regular checkups.

This efficient, convenient process translates to simplified scheduling and reduced waiting times for patients — resulting in higher patient satisfaction, improved patient compliance, and ultimately safer treatment. In decentralized settings, point-of-care CBC analyzers are especially impactful on the patient experience.

Additionally, HemoScreen by PixCell Medical further simplifies the testing experience by requiring only a finger prick of blood instead of a typical venous blood sample. This is a significant advantage to psychiatric patients, as it reduces the discomfort and inconvenience associated with traditional blood sampling methods while providing comparable results.

Studies have shown that patients are more likely to decline treatment or discontinue clozapine treatment due to the burden of frequent blood sampling. POC testing can help address these concerns and improve patient adherence, ensuring they receive the full benefits of their treatment plan.

Streamlines Clinical Workflow

Psychiatric patients on clozapine are not the only ones to benefit from a faster, more convenient blood testing process — POC testing can streamline the clinical workflow for care providers, too.

By providing real-time results, a POC 5-part differential WBC analyzer reduces the time and effort required to collect, transport, and process blood samples. Care providers can simply run the test on-site and receive the information they need. HemoScreen can provide lab-grade 5-part WBC differential results in only five minutes, freeing up time for care providers to spend with patients.

In addition, POC testing can potentially minimize the risk of sample mix-ups or contamination, further improving the reliability and accuracy of the test results. By streamlining the clozapine WBC monitoring process, healthcare providers can optimize their time management and resource allocation, leading to a more efficient and effective clinical practice.

Offers Cost Savings

Although purchasing a POC WBC analyzer for monitoring patients on clozapine requires some upfront investment, the long-term cost savings can justify the expense.

Studies have shown that starting psychiatric patients on clozapine can lead to significant reductions in healthcare provider costs, highlighting the value of adopting POC testing. The cost savings stem from eliminating the need for transportation and labor associated with sending blood samples to labs, as well as the reimbursable opportunity to perform this ancillary service in-house.

Moreover, the increased patient compliance resulting from a more convenient testing process may lead to fewer hospitalizations and emergency room visits, further reducing overall healthcare costs.

HemoScreen takes cost savings even further due to its revolutionary lab-on-a-cartridge technology. Each disposable cartridge includes all necessary reagents, so care providers do not have to purchase and manage reagents separately. This lowers the total cost of ownership and makes HemoScreen extremely simple to operate, as it requires no maintenance or calibration.

Fast, Accurate CBC Blood Analysis with HemoScreen

Point-of-care testing for clozapine WBC monitoring is an invaluable tool in optimizing patient care and enhancing the overall quality of healthcare services. From enabling early detection to improving patient compliance, physicians and patients alike benefit from the rapid, accurate results from an instrument like HemoScreen.

HemoScreen from PixCell Medical is the only CBC analyzer with 5-part WBC differential that is FDA-approved for the point of care. Compared to standard laboratory methods, clinical evidence shows that HemoScreen provides comparable results during clozapine WBC monitoring for psychiatric patients. With only a finger prick of blood, care providers can quickly and conveniently check ANC levels and make immediate decisions.

To learn more about HemoScreen and its other applications beyond ANC analysis, contact us today to request a demo.

(*) Please note: training must be defined by local, state and federal regulations. In the USA, training is defined for CLIA moderate complexity devices.