Originally published by Healthcare Business Today
Over the course of the last 22 months the coronavirus, including the Delta and Omicron variants, has left Americans feeling as though normal may take longer to return to than expected. In fact, it has sent our global healthcare system into overdrive with admission demand higher than ever before, staffing shortages more severe than we’ve experienced in decades, and consumer behaviors changing more immediately than the system can keep up with – to name a few.
Now that we are nearing two years into this “endemic,” or “new normal,” the healthcare industry is being upended by the pandemic-fueled demand for healthcare services at home. What initially started as essential healthcare services being conducted through telehealth due to quarantine and shelter in place orders, has since evolved into a whole new marketplace of healthcare services available in the convenience of your home.
At-home healthcare services and treatments continue to advance and evolve, and one thing is certain: it is here to stay. Services from the comfort of home are widely accessible, they give consumers some control, and they continue to grow through innovation.
Adaptability of At-Home Capabilities
The trend of bringing daily necessities directly to people in their homes has expanded from groceries and meals to fitness and healthcare. People are becoming habituated to remaining at home more than before. As a result, according to the American Psychiatric Association, 34% of people surveyed now prefer telehealth to an in-person doctor office visit.
According to the CDC, during the first quarter of 2020, the number of telehealth visits increased by 50% compared to the same period in 2019, with an overall 154% increase in visits in 2020 as compared to the same period the previous year. It was noted by the CDC that, “with expanded access and improved reimbursement policies in place, as well as ongoing acceptability by patients and health care providers, telehealth might continue to serve as an important modality for delivering care during and after the pandemic.”
But at-home healthcare services go beyond telehealth to include at-home testing and diagnostics. During this past holiday season, millions of people took to at-home rapid COVID-19 antigen tests for quick reassurance before traveling or gathering with loved ones.
As a clinical testing provider, IHD can help save lives by providing access to non-traditional diagnostic delivery models such as at-home testing to reach new demographics of healthcare consumers.
Self-administered at-home tests have many benefits and can produce a wealth of information about a patient’s health.
At-home tests can screen or monitor for various health conditions, diseases or infections either before experiencing symptoms, with symptoms or on a regular monitoring basis for health management. They can help provide a health diagnosis, such as pregnancy, glucose levels, or blood pressure. At-home tests aid in providing a diagnosis so people know how to take the next step/s in their health journey. As with any at-home test, consulting with or visiting a medical provider after administering a test is typically necessary – and often an in-person visit to a healthcare practitioner who has access to more advanced testing technology is necessary. As such, at-home tests should not be used as a replacement for guidance from a medical professional, and results from tests taken at home should be shared with your health provider.
The At-Home Testing Marketplace
Convenient, rapid Covid antigen tests that can be self-administered at home are a prime example of the future of diagnostics, and they are not the only at-home tests that consumers have turned to. Whether on the advice of a physician or simply as a way to take control of one’s own health, there are a plethora of tests available for people to administer at home – some of which may be new to patients.
Fertility testing is a major player in the at-home testing market. Tests to aid couples seeking pregnancy like Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH), Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and thyroid tests are blood tests that can be self-administered in one’s home.
For example, our IHD Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) at-home test can help monitor the overall ovarian health of women trying to get pregnant. AMH at-home tests determine a woman’s ovarian reserve. Using an AMH at-home test when trying to get pregnant helps women understand individual fertility over time; information gathered from the test can be used by women to supplement conversations with their doctors or initiate new ones.
While typically uncomfortable for patients to discuss with their providers, infectious disease, including sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) continue to trend upward year-after-year across the globe. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 1 million STIs are acquired every day. Diagnostic testing plays a critical role in the prevention of spreading infectious diseases. Fortunately, consumers can now access private, at-home STD tests.
With more than 50 assays in our at-home testing pipeline, IHD brings testing to patients wherever they are, empowering them to take control of their health while promoting dignity and easy access to care.
The Future of At-Home Tests
As we embrace a new year, one thing remains clear: at-home testing isn’t a trend and is here to stay. As the healthcare industry continues to seek ways to provide greater access of care and manage population health, at-home testing plays an important role. At home-testing can help provide greater accessibility to testing, empower people to take control of their own health, and as it grows, offer more novel at-home diagnostics. Finally, it’s important that new and innovative at-home products in the marketplace maintain the highest standards of care with high-quality, reliable, quality control measures.
Dr. George Jour is an advisory board member and clinical consultant at Innovative Health Diagnostics (IHD). We're a company that empowers every person by providing access to accurate, clinical testing, when and where it matters most. IHD services include fertility and in vitro fertilization (IVF) testing; FDA donor testing for families completing surrogacies; and COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and antibody testing.