Have you ever suspected you have a health issue and need lab tests done? Maybe you just wanted to check out your hormone or vitamin levels to make sure everything’s balanced as it should be.
We all know the importance of lab tests. But honestly, sometimes it can be embarrassing to get them done at the doctor’s office. You have to make trips to the doctor and deal with other people knowing your business.
You may also have some difficulty seeing a doctor or getting them to prescribe the test you feel you need. And sometimes, you may not get tested at all if your doctor doesn’t feel it’s necessary.
So what’s a person to do?
Thankfully, testing yourself at home is an excellent alternative. What are the benefits of at-home health tests? We’ll take a look at five in this article.
But first, let’s learn just what at-home health testing is and the many ways it can be used to improve your health.
All about at-home testing
Home tests — also known as direct-to-consumer (DTC) at-home tests — first became popular with the invention of home pregnancy tests in the 1970s. They have since expanded to cover various conditions, providing patients and customers with many more options than they had previously.
Types of at-home tests
There are three main types of at-home tests. Some may provide instant results, while others require you to collect a sample and send it off.
Self-tests allow you to complete the entire testing process at home. You simply collect your sample and receive results on-site — sometimes in as little as an hour!
The test kits include information about how to take the sample and how to interpret the result.
Self-collection tests allow you to take the sample at home and send it to a laboratory to be analyzed. You’ll get your results electronically once the lab has processed the sample.
Tests ordered from home involve a hybrid process. You’ll have your sample collected and analyzed in a lab, but schedule and pay for the test through a specially designed website.
This option simplifies the traditional process and makes testing more convenient by allowing you to handle all the pretest logistics and paperwork from the comfort of your own home.
Uses of at-home tests
The uses of at-home tests have expanded over the years. There are several common applications, such as:
- Screening: Identifies signs of a health problem before you experience any symptoms. For example, you can complete an at-home STD test to screen for STDs when you don’t have symptoms.
- Diagnosing: Identifies the cause of a health issue after the onset of symptoms. For example, at-home COVID-19 and flu tests diagnose the illness for you. However, your doctor must always complete the final diagnosis and may order more tests to follow up.
- Monitoring: Tracks how your health changes over time or in response to a certain treatment. For example, you can monitor your blood sugar with at-home diabetes kits.
- Wellness optimization: Helps you understand one or more facets of your physical, emotional, or mental wellness. At-home wellness kits may measure nutrient levels, hormones, or other health factors to give you more information about your wellness. For example, you can take a food sensitivity test, an adrenal stress test, or an inflammation test.
Some tests may even allow you to conduct a disease risk assessment to reveal if you have a higher risk of developing certain diseases, or ancestry research to reveal information about your family tree.
At-home test kit guidelines
There are several guidelines you should follow no matter which at-home test kit you use.
The first and most important is to always follow up with your health care provider regardless of the test result. Remember — you’re testing yourself, not diagnosing yourself.
There are also some other general guidelines to follow:
- Always check the kit’s expiration date before use, and do not use it if it has expired. The chemicals or materials may have lost their effectiveness.
- Always read instructions thoroughly before you use the test kit. This will ensure that you understand the process and have all the materials you need.
- Check carefully to see if there are any special procedures you should follow, such as taking the test at a certain time of day or fasting before the test.
- Make sure you follow the test instructions to a T. If you’re unsure about how to use the test or have any other questions, reach out to the test manufacturer or your health care provider.
- Store your test kit according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Many test kits are sensitive to humidity or temperature and must be stored properly.
- Sit down when collecting a blood sample to avoid light-headedness.
5 reasons to buy an at-home lab test
Many strong advantages make at-home testing the preferred method for numerous patients. These include:
- Expanded access to testing
- Increased knowledge about your health
- Transparent Testing Costs
The biggest advantage of at-home tests is their convenience.
Traditionally, you would have to visit a doctor to have an exam and have lab tests ordered. This usually involves going to an office for multiple appointments and possibly waiting extended periods before you’re tested or get results.
With at-home tests, you can test yourself from the convenience of your home — no trips to the medical office or difficulty getting a lab test ordered!
You can get tested on your own time without having to schedule an appointment. You may get results instantly, or within a few days at most.
At-home testing truly makes things nice and easy, just like we want them.
With the advancements in the home testing market over the years, there are now a variety of tests available for almost any common condition.
There’s truly a test for everyone.
3. Expanded testing access
In the past, lab tests had to be prescribed and ordered by a licensed health professional. So your doctor or physician could deny access to testing if they didn’t think it was necessary.
At-home tests allow you to take control of monitoring your health. Instead of waiting on your health care provider, you have access to the testing you need. You also simplify the testing process by ordering and taking tests from home.
For example, many people — women in particular — suffer from issues with their thyroid. Most doctors rely on standard thyroid panels to gauge thyroid health and function, and they must prescribe them for them to be conducted. However, traditional thyroid panels often don’t paint the full picture of their thyroid condition.
Many patients encounter difficulty getting more comprehensive thyroid panels ordered. They often have to search for new doctors that will address their concerns and prescribe the in-depth thyroid tests they request. Now, they can order more comprehensive at-home thyroid kits.
While some at-home tests still require a prescription, many at-home kit providers provide access to physicians who will verify you meet basic requirements for receiving the prescribed tests. You may simply have to submit a questionnaire or provide other health information.
4. Increased health knowledge
We’ve all heard the saying knowledge is power. This is true when it comes to your health.
At-home test kits allow you to become more informed about your health condition. They provide an additional source of information about your wellness that can empower you to be more active in your health care.
You can then take your results to your physician to get their opinion. They may realize an issue that had previously been unaddressed and show you the correct action to take to improve your health.
5. Transparent testing costs
Lab test costs can vary widely depending on many factors, such as:
- Insurance (Copays / coinsurance, coverage levels, etc.)
- Testing Lab Fees
- Doctor Fees
These fees may not be disclosed upfront, hitting you with an unexpected bill later.
However, most at-home tests ordered online have a set price clearly displayed on the website. You rarely deal with hidden fees — what you see is what you pay.
At-home tests are actually much cheaper than lab tests in most cases. You only pay for the test itself, not the extra medical and professional fees that come with traditional lab tests.
Take control of your health with at-home health test kits
At-home health test kits are an excellent way to screen, monitor, and even diagnose various health conditions. They offer many benefits, such as convenience, variety, better access to testing, increased health knowledge, and cheaper, more transparent testing costs.
Do you feel that you need to take a test at home for your health? If so, myLAB Box has got you covered. As the first nationwide wellness testing platform, we offer 50 discreet and lab-certified at-home health testing options for your every need. Visit our website to access our at-home tests and take control of your health today.