HomeHealthHealth Care3 Medical Tests You Can Take at Home

3 Medical Tests You Can Take at Home

Using a home medical test can be a bit like playing doctor, but it shouldn’t. Even before the pandemic made nasal swabs an art form, many Americans bought direct-to-consumer tests to assess a variety of health issues, from learning about cholesterol and hormone levels to figuring out if they’re pregnant or have sleep apnea.

According to the National Poll on Healthy Aging 2022, conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation in partnership with AARP, nearly half of older adults surveyed have purchased at least one type of home health test, and the majority — 82 percent — said they were open to it so in the future. It’s easy to see why.

“These tests can often be more convenient than making a traditional health care appointment and can be done in the privacy of your home,” said Jeffrey Kullgren, MD, director of the National Poll on Healthy Aging and vice chief for research and innovation in the United States. Department of General Medicine at the University of Michigan. Plus, “advances in technology have made it possible to test for more conditions or risk factors at home.”

Convenience is nice, of course, and improved technology is key. But can home tests be trusted? The answer to that question can be found in the fine print in the packaging that – let’s face it – no one likes to read.

“Consumers should make sure they know if the test they are taking is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and how their health or genetic information may be shared,” said Indira Venkat, senior vice president of AARP Research .

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Reading the package insert isn’t the only way to find out if a particular test is regulated by the FDA. You can also ask your pharmacist, contact the manufacturer of the test or the FDA’s online database of approved home tests. (COVID-19 tests cleared by the FDA are listed here.)

Whichever method you choose, keep in mind: Even if you have the green light from the FDA, it’s not OK to bypass your healthcare provider.

“Be sure to discuss any at-home test with your doctor or healthcare provider beforehand,” says Kullgren. “While there are times when a home test may be a good option, there are other times when an evaluation by a healthcare professional is the quickest and most effective way to identify risks for future health problems or the cause of a new condition. symptom.”

The same goes for sharing the results of a home test. They “should be discussed with your provider to determine what, if any, additional testing or treatment may be needed,” says Kullgren.

The vast majority of adults who responded to the poll agree with all of the above – in theory, but not necessarily in practice. Example: 90 percent of those who used a cancer-related home test said they shared the results with their healthcare provider, yet only slightly more than half of those who used a home test for a non-COVID-19 infection – such as, say HIV or a urinary tract infection – shared the results with their doctor.

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