Are at-home health tests safe and effective?

At-Home Diagnostic Testing

Are at-home health tests safe and effective?

Mari Pack

The short answer: Yes!

At-home health tests are super convenient, especially in our post-COVID world. Many of us have come to rely on telehealth and other at-home services to take control of our healthcare. Telehealth services save us a trip to the doctor’s office, and protect us from potential exposure. But what about the delicate business of at home diagnostic testing for diseases like COVID and beyond? Are there drawbacks or risks? 

While at-home health tests are safe and effective, the best at-home kits work in conjunction with doctors and hospitals to provide convenience and accessibility alongside medical precision.

At-home health tests are not new 

Trusted at-home testing solutions have been around for decades. Ever heard of a pregnancy test? A glucose test for diabetics? At-home tests like these were approved by the FDA for quality and accuracy outside a medical setting. (Not all diagnostic tests are FDA approved. Some recent rapid antigen COVID tests, for example, have had their original FDA approval revoked.) 

While at-home health tests provide careful results, many people historically rely on them to subsidize, not replace, medical intervention. Pregnant people often visit an OBGYN after they receive a positive pregnancy test. Diabetics blood test at home and visit an endocrinologist to manage their healthcare. These at-home tests have long empowered users to make healthcare decisions alongside intervention from medical professionals.   

The problem of human misinterpretation 

One major concern with at-home health testing is not the tests themselves, but rather human error. A medical study published in 2011 on the efficacy of at-home fertility tests concluded that kits provided accurate results, but “Many tests rely on patients to subjectively interpret results which may lead to erroneous conclusions.” Researchers deduced that “ with proper evaluation and implementation” (i.e. medical professionals to interpret findings) at-home test kits could become “valuable adjuncts to medical practice.”

Indeed, reliable at-home health testing should not exist in a vacuum. At Ash, we not only employ a network of CLIA/CAP certified labs across the country with capabilities to perform hundreds of types of diagnostic tests, but also provide technology infrastructure to share results with medical staff. 

The problem of inaccurate collection 

Sample accuracy is another issue that critics raise about at-home test kits. Can everyday people collect samples with the same accuracy as trained doctors and nurses? 

As it turns out, yes! A study on the accuracy of at-home HIV tests concluded “Overall, agreement between test results performed by laypersons and health staff was high with 86% of self-tests and 98% of home samples collected adequately.” There were, moreover, “no false positive test results [...] and few false negative or inconclusive test results.” Most people are capable of following written directions. 

A final thought on at-home diagnostics

At-home health testing for STIs, COVID, genetics and more is a safe and effective way to supplement overall healthcare. Kits provide valuable information, particularly when partnered with doctors and medical professionals. Companies and organizations can get started with Ash Wellness now to access our HIPAA compliant platform to help empower everyday people.

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