Optimize Your Health with Medical Lab Testing at Home
For many, a routine trip to the doctor has turned into a frustrating experience...
High deductibles, increased copays, long wait times, congested commutes, exposure to other illnesses and time off work are just a few of the headaches associated with routine doctor visits. Fortunately, in today's quickly-changing medical environment, a plethora of tools are now available at your fingertips that facilitates self health monitoring.
Direct-to-Consumer Lab Tests
Direct to consumer labs offer convenient at home health tests. Many states now allow for Direct Access Testing (DAT), which allows consumers to purchase lab diagnostic tests without a prescription. Please note that most insurance companies will not cover the cost of the testing unless your medical professional has ordered and provided a written prescription for the testing. Restrictions apply to residents of California, Maryland, Rhode Island and New York.
What Does it Mean to Self Monitor?
The market for self-testing and self-monitoring is really just in its infancy. It's a personal health trend that has been steadily growing the past few years. To date, most people have associated it with software technologies and electronic devices that can help them both monitor their personal health and manage it more effectively - think FitBit. The influx of smartphone apps and wearable technology has fueled this growth in large part.
These tools only tell a portion of the story though.
BCC Research, a company that produces reliable market research forecasts and reports for some of today's most disruptive industries including healthcare, estimates that the global market for self-monitoring technologies will grow to nearly $19 billion by 2019. In the United States, much of this growth can be traced to the increased accessibility of medical lab testing that the public can now complete in the privacy of their own homes.
How Can Testing by Online Labs Help You?
The beauty of the tests that direct to consumer labs offer is that you can avoid the expense and time commitment of having to make an appointment with your primary care physician to obtain the information you need to take charge of your health. While some of these tests require a doctors prescription, many of them do not. Indeed, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to approve many of these tests whose domain used to be limited to the doctor's office only.
According to Consumer Reports, the information provided by these online tests empowers consumers, providing them with valuable information that they can share with their medical professionals and use to make certain lifestyle changes on their own if warranted. While the costs of these DIY health screening kits can vary, their prices tend to range from less than $10 to $175 -- a significant reduction compared to the fees charged by a doctor. In most cases, not only must you pay for the lab tests itself, you first need to make an appointment -- along with its accompanying copays and office visit fees -- with your medical doctor in order to obtain their blessing to have the test completed.
The Future of Medicine is Here Today
Already, the future of medicine is in the hands of consumers. Not only do people want to be more in control of their health, they want to do so in an affordable, quick, and efficient manner. Direct to consumer labs can also provide consumers with valid screening options instead of opting for more invasive tests. For example, according to research found in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) -- one of the most commonly performed at home by consumers who want to be informed about their health -- is not only a suitable alternative to the more invasive colonoscopy, it's also an effective screening tool for colon cancer.
So You Want to Optimize Your Health? Here's How!
The number of online lab tests approved by the FDA is expected to grow. Therefore, the following list of such tests offered by direct to consumer labs should be viewed as only a sampling. Like many other aspects of technology, the DIY health industry is changing so rapidly that it can be difficult to keep up with all the new information and testing being released. That’s why we encourage you to join our newsletter for the latest DIY healthcare news and information.
Here is a sampling of the growing list of direct to consumer lab tests available:
• Fecal Immunochemical test (FIT)
As a screening tool for colon cancer, the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) is designed to detect hidden blood that is present in the stool. If found, it could be a sign of cancer. Though the FIT can only detect blood found in the lower intestines, it is considered to be more accurate than other tests because food and medication don't interfere with it. Other names this test might be called include a colon cancer screening test and an immunochemical fecal occult blood test (iFOBT).
• Blood Glucose
According to Consumer Reports, about 40 percent of adults who have type 2 diabetes aren't even aware of it. This means that they are losing out on valuable time because they aren't getting the treatment they need to protect themselves from serious -- and potentially deadly -- health conditions. Diabetes, if not managed properly, can lead to stroke, kidney failure, heart disease, and blindness. If you have factors that put you at risk for diabetes. such high blood pressure, a family history of the disease, or you are overweight, getting a DIY testing device or home glucose monitor is a good way to be proactive about your health.
Having high levels of LDL, or "bad," cholesterol can increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart disease due to inflammation and blood clots. This is because when too much cholesterol builds up in the arteries, these blood vessels constrict. It then becomes more difficult for your blood to flow smoothly through them. If you are already on cholesterol medication to control these levels, testing yourself about once or twice a year lets you know if it is working. It's important to bring this information to your doctor to determine if a medication change is needed and not make that determination on your own.
Even if you aren't already on medication, though, this test still provides valuable information. For example, if you have a close family member with heart disease and/or high cholesterol, you lead a sedentary lifestyle or you follow a diet that can increase your chances of having the condition, testing it on your own can help you determine if you need to see a doctor for treatment.
While HIV is not in the news as much as it was in years past, it's still a serious threat for those who are at high risk. In fact, the primary high-risk group of adults is those who are not in a monogamous and long-term relationship but who are sexually active. Adults 55 years of age and older are less likely to get diagnosed with the disease while it's still in its early stages. At this writing, about 25 percent of those with HIV fall into this age group. A screening test offers by online labs allows people who are high risk to maintain a degree of privacy that is not possible when they make an appointment at their doctor's office.
• Hepatitis C
According to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the 19,659 deaths from hepatitis C in 2014 represent an all-time high for the disease. In 2013, hepatitis C was responsible for more deaths than 60 other infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, HIV, and pneumococcal disease, combined. The agency notes that many baby boomers -- defined as those born between 1945 and 1965 -- have been infected by the virus for years without being aware of it. This is often the result of medical procedures performed after World War II before technologies pertaining to blood transfusions and injections became more advanced.
Like many deadly diseases, a person infected by the hepatitis C virus shows few symptoms when the condition is in its early phases. Current projections estimate that about 3.5 million Americans have hepatitis C with about half of those being unaware that they are infected. In addition to baby boomers getting tested at least once, the CDC, as well as the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, recommends that those who are at high risk for the disease get tested on a regular basis.
• Yeast Infections
Because yeast infections are relatively easy to treat on your own using over-the-counter antifungal medications, going the DIY testing route -- which measures the vagina's pH --makes sense. While some medical professionals might recommend that a woman who suspects that she has a yeast infection treat herself anyway, doing so could mask other conditions and expose you to unnecessary medications. It's important to see a doctor, though, if the yeast infection recurs or its symptoms don't respond to medication as there could be another health issue at play.
• Urinary Tract Infections
While urinary tract infections are rare in young males, it rises as a man ages. In fact, this painful condition results in about four million visits to medical professionals annually. Online labs who offer this test can provide an individual with the confirmation of their condition. For many people, though, their medical professional will insist on an in-person examine before handing out a prescription.
Unfortunately, urinary tract infections often recur in those people who are prone to them. If you fall into this category, you are at a particular advantage when it comes to DIY testing. If your primary care physician has seen you previously for a urinary tract infection and you've established that they recur for you, many doctors will save you the time and money required to make an appointment and simply call in a prescription for an antibiotic if you outline your strategy of getting tested by a direct to consumer lab.
• DNA Test
While a DNA test might seem out of place compared to the others noted above, it can provide a wealth of valuable information for those who want to optimize their health. Adoptees, for example, might know little to no information about their background. Having a DNA test can alert them to conditions that tend to be found in certain ethnic groups. Even if you aren't adopted, it's likely that you'll learn something about your genetic background that can help you protect your health better.
At home DNA tests have moved beyond just ancestry though. After a fault start with the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), 23andMe has been approved for direct to consumer testing of DNA for genetic health risks such as Parkinson’s Disease and carrier status testing for things like Sickle Cell Anemia and Cystic Fibrosis. They now offer a a full genetic profile of 75+ medically relevant reports.
Pharmazam, on the other hand offers a DNA test for pharmacogenetics. Pharmazam is a medication management system that integrates a smartphone app, a pharmacogenomics (PGx) DNA drug metabolism diagnostic test and analytical software to generate patient specific indications of Adverse Drug Reactions (ADRs) from Drug to Drug, Drug to Gene, Drug to Illness, Drug to Allergy, Drug to Food, and Drug to Lifestyle issues.
Before you embark on medical self exploration, remember, no test is perfect. Inaccurate readings and misunderstood results occur. It’s important to speak with a doctor who can evaluate the results in conjunction with your medical history to confirm a diagnosis and treatment plan.
• New Tests On The Market
Almost everyday, a new lab or new test hits the market. Other direct to consumer at home lab tests now available include:
Male & Female Hormone Panels, Food Sensitivity Test, Cholesterol and Lipids Test, Heavy Metals Test, Sleep and Stress Test, Testosterone Test, Breast Milk DHA Test, Ovarian Reserve Test, Thyroid Test, Metabolism Test, Vitamin D and Inflammation Test DHA+.
At CompendiumDX.com, we believe that it's important for you to take charge of your health and learn all that you can. We are a marketplace of direct to consumer medical devices and diagnostics. Check out our At-Home Health Shop for our complete list of lab tests that are both affordable and easy to do at home. For more information or if you have any questions, please use our contact form.