What are Home Diagnostics?

At-Home Diagnostic Testing

What are Home Diagnostics?

Ash Team

Home diagnostics are lab tests that patients perform in non-clinical settings and often in the comfort of their own homes. The samples are submitted via mail to a laboratory for analysis. This blog explains what home diagnostics are, exploring their benefits, the significance of dried blood spot cards, the types of diagnostic labs that can be performed at home, and examples of popular panels.

What are home diagnostics?

Also called self-collection testing, home diagnostics allow patients to collect a sample in the form of blood, stool, urine, or other materials and submit it through the mail to a lab for analysis. Providers or health plans can initiate home diagnostic care flows to screen patients, while digital health companies may also offer patients the ability to order tests from a digital portal or retail location. 

What are the benefits of home diagnostics?

Home diagnostics resolve many barriers to care, such as lack of reliable transportation, inability to take off work, or childcare limitations. Patients in remote or rural areas have limited access to healthcare facilities, and home diagnostics can provide essential services through telehealth to a broader population. Many patients may also feel more comfortable completing tests at home for reasons related to stigma, privacy concerns, or mistrust of medical providers. Home diagnostics rely on mail-in kits that are less expensive for health plans and providers than remote phlebotomy. 

Chat with Ash Wellness about launching your home diagnostics program.

What are the benefits of dried blood spot cards?

Many kinds of remote diagnostic tests rely on dried blood spot cards, a collection device used in healthcare and research to collect and store small volumes of blood for various diagnostic tests. This method is particularly useful in situations where traditional blood collection methods might be impractical or where access to healthcare facilities is limited. Some benefits of DBS cards include: 

  • Streamlined Sample Collection: The utilization of DBS cards facilitates blood sampling through finger pricks, eliminating the necessity for phlebotomists. This decreases workforce demands and enhances convenience for patients.
  • Improved Durability: DBS cards exhibit exceptional stability of analytes, ensuring precise and dependable test results.
  • Minimal Blood Requirement: In contrast to traditional blood collection methods that necessitate larger blood volumes, DBS cards only need a small amount obtained from a finger prick. This minimally invasive approach enhances patient comfort and reduces risks associated with larger blood draws.
  • Effortless Shipping, Storage, and Disposal: DBS cards are designed for simple shipping and storage. Unlike the expensive and cumbersome traditional cold chain storage, DBS cards can be reliably transported by mail. This facilitates widespread access to fundamental health information, boosting screening and biobanking efforts for retrospective analysis.
  • Cost-Efficiency: The adoption of DBS cards diminishes expenses linked to blood collection, transportation, and storage. It eradicates the requirement for specialized equipment and trained personnel, making it a financially prudent solution.

What kind of diagnostic labs can be performed at home?

Home diagnostics rely on collection devices that enable patients to collect samples at home. These collection devices help determine what types of labs can be performed at home. 

  • Dried blood spot card: Filter paper cards known as dried blood spot (DBS) cards serve as a collection medium for small blood samples intended for diverse laboratory tests. Particularly useful in remote or resource-limited environments, these cards provide a convenient means of sample collection to test for bloodborne diseases. Key benefits of DBS cards encompass straightforward collection, minimal invasiveness, and the capacity to store samples at room temperature, alleviating the necessity for cold chain transportation.
  • Microtainers: In the state of New York, microtainers are mandated for blood sample collection instead of dried blood spot testing for certain tests, such as STI screenings. A collection kit in New York includes essential items such as a microtainer, tube stand, alcohol pads, single-use lancets, bandages, and a return pouch. It is imperative for patients to mail the collected microtainer on the same day it is obtained.
  • Swabs: Several at-home diagnostic tests use swabs for sample collection. Examples include Chlamydia and Gonorrhea screenings, COVID-19 or flu tests, and certain types of fertility tests. 
  • Brush kit: Tests that require a stool sample, such as FIT, may use a swab brush and collection card to trap and transport the sample in a remote care flow. 

What are some examples of home diagnostic panels? 

Popular panels include:

  • Upper Respiratory: This panel uses swabs to screen for COVID -19, RSV, Strep, and Flu. 
  • Total Sexual Health: While exact panels may differ, most kits use DBS cards and swabs to screen for some combination of HIV, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Trichomoniasis, Syphilis, Hepatitis B and C. 
  • Diabetes Screening: These kits screen for HbA1C levels and Glucose with a DBS card. 
  • General Health: This panel uses a DBS card to screen for important general biomarkers related to the health of the liver, kidneys, bones, and metabolic system.
  • Cardiovascular Health: Test kits screen for cardiovascular health by detecting levels of HDL, LDL, Total Cholesterol, and Triglycerides in the blood. 

Home diagnostics through Ash Wellness 

Ash Wellness offers over 150+ lab diagnostic tests to clients who want to launch at-home diagnostic programs. We provide access to our national CLIA/CAP certified lab network with a single integration, making it easy for clients to expand programs across the United States. Our white-label solution allows companies and organizations to maintain brand integrity for mail-in kits and digital portals, while the Ash client success team and help desk manages patient questions and inquiries. 

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