Medically Reviewed by Arbi Ohanian, MD Vascular Neurologist
We have learned many lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the most profound takeaways was the importance of accessing health care outside of traditional settings.
With hospitals overwhelmed with critically ill patients and individuals wary about traveling outside their homes, telehealth appointments surged by three to four thousand percent in March 2020 compared to pre-pandemic numbers. This trend was accompanied by a corresponding demand for at-home COVID diagnostic tests. This trend has picked up steam in 2021, with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approving several COVID screening kits and the federal government’s commitment to purchase 8.5 million rapid coronavirus tests that can be used at home.
Just as the pandemic has irrevocably reshaped many aspects of life, the same can be said of health care. At-home testing has grown in popularity over the years as technology has advanced what can be achieved through these kits. Pregnancy tests, glucose monitors, and genetic health tests have been joined in the marketplace by dozens of different types of kits. They target everything from hormone levels to sexually transmitted diseases. The global market for at-home test kits was $8.87 billion in 2019. It is now projected to almost double by 2027 to $16.02 billion. At-home testing is the future of diagnostics—and the future is near.
The Advantages Of At-Home Testing
The availability of at-home kits can open the doors to more health care screening and testing for those who need it. According to vascular neurologist Arbi Ohanian, M.D., “At-home testing will allow access to many who do not have the time or resources to pursue essential testing required for appropriate medical care by their treating physicians.”
While accessibility is a key advantage of home tests, there are many other benefits:
- Simplicity: At-home tests can be purchased over-the-counter or ordered online. Most tests only require a small sample of blood, urine, or saliva, which anyone can do without medical supervision.
- Variety: Today’s market offers a wealth of general health kits, along with specific men’s and women’s health tests. For instance, men can monitor their prostate health while women can track the hormones that influence fertility.
- Accuracy: Today’s technology makes continuous advances. This allows testing companies to refine their kits for precise results. Third-party labs also harness technology to analyze these tests. The most forward-thinking companies are even developing their own in-house labs.
- Convenience: It can be frustrating for patients to have their doctor tell them to get a lab test, have to wait days or even weeks for an appointment, and then wait even longer for the results. Test kits can be ordered easily, and once the sample is sent back to the company, results can come back in just a few days.
- Privacy: At-home testing is the ultimate option for discretion. Many companies mail their kits in generic packaging, and the sample is drawn in the privacy of your home.
- Safety: Again, technology plays a role here. Today’s tests are developed to provide all the safeguards necessary to deliver the best results. Drawing a sample is easy and requires minimal effort.
- Affordability: At-home tests may save on health care costs compared to getting blood drawn or providing a urine sample at a doctor’s office or clinical lab.
- Reassurance: Regular testing at home is a valuable tool to monitor a medical condition, such as checking blood sugar levels for diabetes patients. These kits can also be life-changing—detecting signs of disease even in the absence of any symptoms so individuals can act quickly and get the care they need. Testing offers patients the peace of mind that comes from taking charge of their health.
- Empowerment: When individuals take charge of their health and have the information they need to make informed decisions, they have greater agency over their care. They effectively become their own healthcare advocate.
Today’s world places a premium on fast, responsive technology to obtain a wide variety of services, and at-home testing meets that need. The market for home test kits will only continue to grow and expand. The possibilities are exciting and will continue to revolutionize the way we look at healthcare.
How To Get The Most Out Of At-Home Health Tests
There are many choices for home health kits, with new options continuing to be rolled out fast. Here are some guidelines individuals should keep in mind to get the best results:
- Pick the test that is right for you. What are your health goals? Do you need to screen for a particular disease or monitor your health regularly? What kind of sample do you need to produce? If you have a specific issue you want to address, find a test targeting that concern.
- Understand what the results can—and cannot—do. Look for a testing company that does not overpromise on results and clearly spells out what information you can get from a test. Also, make sure those results are presented in a clear, easy-to-navigate format that is not just a jumble of numbers you do not understand.
- Follow all instructions to the smallest detail. Results can be skewed if you veer from the provided directions, and your information may be flawed as a result. Before taking the test, be clear on how to collect and store the sample and follow any special instructions, such as fasting before testing. Double-check to make sure any medications or supplements you take will not interfere with the results.
- Find a responsive testing company. You get an extra layer of security when you purchase test kits from a company that welcomes questions from its customers and provides multiple avenues of access. This includes an 800 number or email address. Even better, look for a company where medical professionals can discuss your results with you and clarify what they mean.
- Share your findings with your healthcare provider. You should always provide your doctor with a copy of your results report for your medical records and confer with them on any major medical issues. Some companies provide shareable reports you can easily go over with your physician so you both can come up with an actionable plan for your health.
At-home testing will only move forward in the years to come, and the resulting innovations will transform the way individuals take care of their health. The potential is limitless.
About: True Marker is a Los Angeles-based, state-of-the-art reference laboratory designed to deliver a better at-home health experience. Launching June 2021, the organization provides easy, affordable, and convenient at-home testing that can quickly diagnose a range of health conditions. To learn more, please visit https://truemarker.com/.