Using At-Home Health Test Kits in a Practice
Content by: Audrey Perkins, RDN, CDN
Health tests ordered online are on the rise with consumers! Certain conditions once required patients to present at the physician office and go to a lab. New technology and biomarkers make at home testing an option for consumers. This is especially true for conditions associated with nutrition and activity.
Whether you are new in your field of practice or a seasoned professional, it’s an exciting time to be in the business of health and wellness! Out of eleven sectors, Personal Care & Beauty and Healthy Eating, Nutrition, & Weight Loss are the top two that drum up the highest revenues in the world’s wellness economy, reported by Global Wellness Institute(1), a non-profit organization committed to public and private education about preventative health and wellness. Adding to that excitement are the predictions that sales in these sectors are only expected to grow, with Healthy Eating, Nutrition, & Weight Loss specifically increasing every year by 10% through 2025.
Part of what is driving the success of the wellness economy are home tests. With the unexpected events of the COVID-19 pandemic bringing forth innovative health technologies to meet an ever growing demand for more timely access to healthcare, companies are taking advantage of the growing trend. It began with the initiation of virtual care visits, where providers could provide real time service to their patients through a few clicks on a phone, tablet, or computer. Current trends now have companies offering home tests. Home tests (also seen as “at home medical tests” or “at home health tests”) are kits that can be purchased to test for, screen, or monitor certain diseases and conditions in the privacy of one’s home. Home tests appear to have a perceived added value to growing healthcare initiatives, where patients are wanting to further their personalized health care right in the comfort and convenience of their homes.
A quick internet search will yield thousands of results on what type of home tests are out on the market for purchase, along with varying companies where they can be purchased. You may want to take your time researching companies you are considering using prior to making any commitments. Some companies allow for third party review of their laboratories where the home tests are analyzed once the sample is received. This offers more credibility to the results, as third party testing speaks to better quality testing. To identify such companies, look for the terms “CAP accredited” or “CLIA certified” on their website about their home health tests. Thorne is one such company, offering home tests that explore nine different areas of health(2) that are reviewed by a third party laboratory that is CLIA certified for better accuracy, validity, and interpretation.
You may be considering starting a practice or perhaps currently have a practice and are thinking home tests may add value to your services. If so, read below for 5 strategies in growing your practice using home testing!
1️⃣ Home tests can be used to further personalize your services.
Using results from a client’s home test can provide a more comprehensive approach that involves the professional creating a tailored plan of care. The data can be used to establish targets that hold the client on task to achieve their desired results. This approach may further enhance provider-client trust and rapport as clients are guided towards their goals.
2️⃣ Opportunity for increasing number of client sessions.
Home tests allow for professionals to build client sessions around the testing and results, in addition to their specialty services. An entire session can be dedicated to reviewing and interpreting results with a follow up to discuss any interventions that would support the client’s goals.
3️⃣ An objective data point that can be measured over time.
Depending on the client’s needs and resources, re-testing may be a valuable approach to measuring a client’s progress over a period of time. This can be useful in client retention and establishing solid provider-client relationships where loyalty can develop.
4️⃣ Understanding client needs and goals before recommending a home test.
As a health professional offering a specialty service, you are assessing your client’s journey to better health. Each session compares where they are to where they want to go. Having home testing capability as part of your services allows for a further look into areas your client may have difficulty making progress. Is your client one of 5% of the US population with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) (3) trying to make diet and lifestyle changes, but continues to have symptoms that disrupt quality of life?
In that instance, a gut health home test may offer valuable insight and another direction you and your client can explore together. Or perhaps your client is noticing improvement in their symptoms and wants to see objective data of their efforts. Either way, home testing may be helpful as an extra tool in your services.
5️⃣ There are options with how to use the results.
As a licensed professional, you are not locked into any one specific approach to assisting your clients on their way to their goals. Although many companies that offer home tests will suggest their products in accordance with the results, this does not need to replace evidenced-based practice guidelines for diet and lifestyle interventions that are trusted to improve conditions and overall health. In some instances, supplementation may be necessary and beneficial to your client. If that’s the case, you are given recommendations straight from the company, reducing the amount of time needed on your end to further research the numerous options available on the market.