4 Ways Home Diagnostics Is Improving Patient Access to Healthcare

At-Home Diagnostic Testing

4 Ways Home Diagnostics Is Improving Patient Access to Healthcare

Ash Team

Remote diagnostics like dried blood spot card testing and self-collection STI screenings are improving patient access to healthcare, especially when it comes to vulnerable populations, such as patients in remote areas. People who can’t take time off work, who lack private transportation, or who need childcare to leave home can also receive timely healthcare outside a normal medical setting. Lab tests are almost always covered by insurance and healthcare flows that utilize remote diagnostics enable physicians to follow up with patients directly. 

Read more to learn how home diagnostic testing, with the help of other telehealth services, can ensure more equal access to healthcare. 

1. Patients can receive care in a timely manner 

For some patients, it might not be possible to schedule in-person care in a timely manner. Even if patients attend preliminary appointments, transportation barriers to healthcare like the lack of a private vehicle, unreliable public transportation services, or inability to arrange childcare make it difficult for patients to follow through with care plans. 

Improving patient access to healthcare through at-home diagnostic tests is important because so many diseases are time sensitive. A study in AIDS Patient Care and STDs argued that while “timely treatment of an HIV infection is a public health priority,” factors such as  “isolation and stigma remain significant barriers to initiating HIV care in populations consisting primarily of persons of color, and that direct linkages to HIV care at the time of diagnosis are critical to promoting timely care initiation in these populations.” 

Home diagnostics allow patients to avoid the perceived stigma of an in-person visit while also delivering timely healthcare.

Schedule a time to chat with us about switching on at-home diagnostic testing for your patient population. 

2. Patients can use insurance 

Another of the factors affecting access to healthcare is the ability for patients to use insurance, including Medicare or Medicaid. "Insurance coverage is one component of access to care,” a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services public access peer-reviewed author manuscript states. “However, even among the insured, substantial barriers to accessing services exist.” This can include lack of trust in physicians, stigma, and long wait times. While Medicaid and Medicaid coverage may not erase other barriers to care, such as transportation concerns, it certainly opens the door for people who could not otherwise afford healthcare.

Rapid tests, such COVID self-testing, may not be covered by insurance. The COVID pandemic will no longer be considered a public health emergency starting May 11, 2023, which means Medicare and private insurers will no longer be required to cover free at-home tests each month, limiting access for low income persons. Home diagnostic tests, as a part of laboratory services, are one of the 10 essential health benefits covered under the ACA.   

3. Patients can follow up with physicians  

Point-of-care tests are similar to home diagnostics in that the sample collection is conducted outside of a medical setting. POC tests produce rapid results at or near the point of care. However, patients are left alone in the event of a positive result, and don’t always pursue follow up care. Home diagnostics are approved by, and often ordered directly by medical professionals to a patient home. Patients self-collect samples, and those samples are resulted in a lab. Since patients interact with home diagnostics within a healthcare cycle, physicians can reach out directly with follow up care. No patient is left to navigate follow up care alone.  

4. Patients in remote areas can access better care 

Telehealth was originally developed to provide basic care to rural and underserved patients, according to a study published in The Journal for Nurse Practitioners. Fewer people in remote regions of the United States often translate to fewer businesses and services, including healthcare. People in these areas are more likely to die of diseases such as heart disease, cancer, lung disease, and stroke. There are also higher rates of obesity in rural areas. Telehealth, with the help of at-home diagnostics, continues to ensure more equal access to healthcare for patients outside major metropolitan centers. 

With at-home diagnostics, medical providers can order diagnostics like blood tests for heart function or a home colon cancer test to screen for common illnesses in rural populations. Medical providers speak with patients over the phone or video chat, and then order tests in the drop-down menu of an EMR/EHR. The tests are mailed to patient homes for self-collection. 

Some specializations, such as store-and-forward teledermatology, may be more reliable over telehealth (if the dermatologist is experienced, as opposed to a less experienced in-person specialist). Teledermatologists can also use at-home diagnostics to oversee accutane bloodwork for rural patients on Isotretinoin. 

Chat with us to learn how home diagnostics from Ash Wellness can support remote care flows for more inclusive healthcare. 

Ash Wellness provides backend support for digital health companies, public health entities, and traditional medical institutions to onboard home diagnostics in all 50 states. We enable clients to process self-collection diagnostics via our network of CLIA/CAP certified labs across the country. Our team kits and sources white-label test kits for 150+ types of diagnostics, while our platform allows clients to manage and refine self-collection programs remotely with best-in-class technology infrastructure. 

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