Direct Access Testing vs. At-Home Testing: Types and Common Patient Uses
Direct access testing (DAT), or patient-authorized testing, refers to tests that one can order without the involvement of a healthcare provider. These tests are usually paid for upfront and are usually not covered by insurance.
Currently, only 37 states and the District of Columbia allow for some level of DAT. Patients in states that allow DAT can purchase kits directly from labs or other companies offering at-home testing options. Depending on the test, these kits generally require the patients to either collect their own specimen sample (dry blood spot, urine, saliva, etc.) and send it to the company for analysis or have the specimen collected by a trained professiona.
As patients become more aware of their health and seek more control over it, DAT is poised for rapid growth. In general, at-home testing is not a new concept, but one that has become popular during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With over 70 percent of medical decisions being based on a lab result, DAT and at-home testing can help guide one’s health journey.
Types of At-Home tests
There are three main types of at-home tests:
- Self-Tests: The patient conducts the entire process (sample collection and resulting) on-site. The provided kit will have instructions on how to interpret the results. These have become popular with COVID-19 tests being performed at home.
- Self-Collection Tests: The patient collects the required sample and sends it back to a laboratory for analysis. Results are sent directly to the patient. Examples include food sensitivity tests requiring dry blood spot samples.
- Tests ordered from home: Patients can order a kit directly from a lab but need to have their specimen collected by the skilled labor who is trained to do so. The labs on the MOMS platform may fall into this category, and patients can find the labor to perform the necessary collection via our MAP: Medical Access Point™ network.
According to Lab Tests Online, at-home tests are used for a variety of different reasons, including:
- Screening: looking for signs of a health issue before any symptoms have occurred.
- Diagnosis: identifying the cause of health problems after symptoms have started (Note: only a doctor can formally diagnose a health condition).
- Monitoring: tracking how a person’s health changes over time in response to treatment.
- Risk Assessment: reveals when a person may be at a higher risk of developing a disease.
- Wellness: some tests can help the patient gain a better understanding of their health. For example, a food sensitivity test.
- Ancestry Research: popular at-home tests to gain an understanding of family history, such as 23andMe.
There are a variety of factors to consider when analyzing the results of an at-home test. The tests can provide useful information, but the results should be taken with a grain of salt. For tests such as a dry blood spot collection for food sensitivity, the results may not be completely accurate. Depending on what one ate throughout the day, the sensitivity range for certain foods may be inflated, causing the results to be skewed.
It is hard to depict the quality and accuracy of at-home tests due to the factors influencing them, such as sample collection, testing method, and the kit itself. Some at-home tests may be FDA-approved, while others may be pending approval. Most of the testing offerings that can be performed using at-home testing are routine clinical tests. More advanced diagnostic testing often requires a venipuncture performed by a trained professional.
For a more accurate and dependable test, the specimen collection can be performed at a medical clinic by a trained professional. However, some patients may not have access to the specialty testing required for specimen collections. My One Medical Source® (MOMS) is revolutionizing this access by connecting those who need their specimen collected with the skilled labor to perform the collection. Contact us today for more information.