Home blood tests are becoming a trend. What it means for healthcare

Home blood tests are becoming a trend.  What it means for healthcare

An older woman uses a lab test at homeShare on Pinterest
Home diagnostic tests aren’t new, but now, some companies will send a mobile phlebotomist to your home for a blood draw. Wagner Okasaki/Getty Images
  • while you are at home Diagnostic tests are not new, a handful of testing companies have gone a step further.
  • Some diagnostic testing companies now offer in-home appointments that include a blood draw.
  • They send mobile phlebotomists to your home to draw your blood and send the sample to a lab.
  • This trend in health care could help reduce barriers to care and lead to better diagnoses and management of health conditions.

You are likely familiar with home diagnostic tests, including pregnancy and COVID-19 tests. These types of tests allow people to obtain medical information from the safety and comfort of their homes.

Despite medical advances in home testing, blood tests still need to be done by trained personnel, which means most people have to go to a clinic or doctor’s office.

But getting to a clinic can present barriers to care for some older adults, people with disabilities, and those who live in areas that don’t have access to medical facilities.

To help make blood tests more accessible, the home lab testing industry is expanding its reach. Increasingly, you can make an appointment for home visits from certified phlebotomists for a wide range of diagnostic tests.

Home laboratory tests typically involve using a kit to collect biological samples, such as saliva or urine, and interpreting the results without the guidance of a medical professional.

For example, companies like CVS Health, and Everlywell offer a variety of home test kits that screen for various health profiles and conditions. These may include:

After receiving the test kit, collect the samples and send the completed test to a laboratory for analysis and interpretation.

But some home lab tests require a healthcare professional to order a test kit for you.

Cologuardfor example, it is a home laboratory test that can detect blood in the stool and DNA markers for colorectal cancer.

Although many home laboratory tests have been available for decades, they have been used increasingly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The notable increase in home testing can be attributed, in part, to the widespread availability of COVID-19 tests, school- and employer-mandated testing, and the desire to avoid exposure to the coronavirus.

A report april 2022 The CDC suggests that use of home COVID-19 testing peaked in January 2022, with 11% of the surveyed population reporting use of home testing in the previous 30 days.

according to a February 2022 reportThe home testing industry is projected to be worth over $2 billion by 2025.

Furthermore, recent market research analysis suggests that the global home test kit market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.1% from 2022 to 2029.

As with laboratory tests performed in a clinical setting, your healthcare professional orders home laboratory tests.

But home blood tests require a certified phlebotomist to come to your home to collect blood samples and send them to the lab. The results will be available to you and your healthcare professional when they are complete.

In general, many of the laboratory tests available at home include most of the same diagnostic and health monitoring tests that you would normally receive in a clinical laboratory.

Home laboratory tests have some distinct advantages:

  • You don’t have to leave your home, which could help you get the tests you need to help diagnose or monitor a health condition.
  • Removes barriers to testing if you have limited access to medical facilities, a disability, or limited mobility.
  • You can take the test in private, with just you and the mobile phlebotomist present. This can help reduce some fears related to the stigma associated with certain conditions.
  • You can get results faster, which can lead to earlier treatment.
  • Home testing can be more convenient and fit into your schedule.

Drawbacks of home laboratory tests include:

  • Some insurance companies do not cover home laboratory tests.
  • The test could be mishandled or stored incorrectly, leading to inaccurate results.
  • Some positive results require a visit to a healthcare professional for treatment, which may require repeat testing.
  • These services are not available in some regions.

“There is room for error, particularly with home tests,” said Dr. jeffrey dlottsenior medical director of diagnostic services at Search diagnosticshe told Healthline.

“Taking your own blood can be daunting and anxiety-ridden for many. And if not done correctly, the results may be inconclusive and require the collection process to be repeated. For many, a blood draw by a trained phlebotomist may be preferable to a finger prick at home.”

A 2017 review suggests that 60-70% of clinical decisions are affected by the results of laboratory tests. Additionally, it is estimated that 80% of guidelines intended to diagnose or monitor a health condition require laboratory tests.

This means that easily accessible medical tests can be vital in ensuring that health conditions are managed properly.

According to Dr. Kerri Masutoboard-certified internal medicine physician and vice president of clinical operations at home testing company Lifeforce, home testing could remove barriers to care for people who:

  • have mental health problems, physical disabilities, or mobility problems
  • are caregivers of children, older adults or people with health problems
  • would have to take unpaid time off from work or use accrued paid time off for health care
  • have limited access to medical testing facilities
  • are experiencing financial disparities
  • manage a busy schedule
  • have health conditions that negatively affect their immune system or are at increased risk of illness or infection
  • may have privacy concerns about testing in a clinical setting

Older adults can also benefit from the convenience of home testing.

For example, a National Survey on Healthy Aging from the University of Michigan found that 74% of older adults surveyed believe home testing is more convenient than testing at a medical facility.

Many home testing companies provide home lab appointments that you, your health care professional, or your caregiver can schedule online.

Depending on the service, a certified mobile phlebotomist may come to your home to draw blood.

Once the samples are collected, they are sent to an outside laboratory such as labcorp or Quest Diagnostics for processing. Your insurance information is also collected and shared with laboratories accordingly. Your test results may be available through the lab, your healthcare professional, or Apple Health.

kyle michelsonCEO of Getlabs, a company that provides in-person laboratory collection by licensed phlebotomists, told Healthline that home blood tests allow health professionals to make medical decisions remotely.

“Previously, providers needed medical facilities to see their patients. Nevertheless, 40% of patients skip their scheduled medical appointments,” said Michelson.

“Today, convenience is not a luxury but a necessity. Once at home, our specialists can collect diagnostic data, including lab work, vital signs, biometrics, liquid biopsies, and much more. By doing so, we improve adherence and help ensure that patients receive preventive care during the critical window for early detection.”

Other companies that offer in-home phlebotomist services include:

It’s a good idea to check with your insurance provider to see if your policy covers home testing.

Michelson said the lab testing portion is usually, but not always, covered by insurance.

Getlabs, for example, charges a pay-out convenience fee starting at $35 for same-day visits.

“In certain cases, patients can submit their receipt to their insurance provider for reimbursement,” Michelson explained, adding that it is recommended to check with your insurance company to see if you are eligible for reimbursement.

“Going forward, we plan to work closely with insurance companies to ensure that more patients can access Getlabs and receive care when and where they need it,” added Michelson.

According to Masutto, you may want to speak with your healthcare professional to determine which diagnostic tests are appropriate and available for home testing.

“[People] they should also discuss any risk factors, such as previous episodes of fainting from blood draws, anemia, acute illness, or pregnancy, with their doctor to determine if it is safe to test at home,” Masutto said.

“Some tests require fast processing and are not accepted if they cannot be delivered within a certain period of time. This will vary depending on the location of the patient, the lab, and the phlebotomist’s schedule.”

Masutto added that if you decide to test at home, you should be well-rested, well-hydrated, and calm during the lab draw to avoid potential side effects.

Home laboratory tests, particularly blood tests, are a growing trend that could close the gap in access to care for traditionally underserved and underserved populations.

It can also be a convenient and potentially cheaper alternative to testing in a clinical setting.

“We believe that this trend is here to stay. The pandemic has changed and accelerated the rise of home diagnostic tests. The growth of virtual health care and a more educated population means people are ready to reimagine the typical health care visit,” said Dlott.

“The convenience of these tests transforms the diagnostic testing market with actionable diagnostic information, allowing them to be more proactive about their health and focus on prevention,” he added.

Still, home lab tests may not be the best option for everyone, particularly those who live with or are at risk for certain health conditions. Talk to your health care professional to determine if home testing is right for you.

Leave a Comment