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How to use home blood tests to manage your health from home

Everything you need to know about diagnosing and managing your condition from the safety of your own home.

As if things weren't worrying enough with the threat of COVID-19 hanging over us, thousands of people also have the uncertainty of not knowing whether they'll get the necessary tests they need to monitor their health condition or to get a diagnosis and receive treatment.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 doctors, appointments have started to move online, with practitioners and patients embracing new technologies out of necessity. Telehealth, or remote medical care, has moved rapidly from the side-lines and onto centre stage. 

But what if you need a blood test or any other diagnostic test? Can that be delivered remotely? Medichecks has been providing remote blood testing to individuals and health practitioners for almost 20 years, and we are experts in remote pathology testing. Read on to find out everything you need to know about diagnosing and managing your condition from the safety of your own home.

Can I get a test to diagnose a condition?

Most of us are familiar with having diagnostic pathology tests when we go to the doctor with symptoms. The NHS National Pathology Programme reports that a pathology test is involved in 70% of all diagnoses made in the NHS (1). At Medichecks we have over 130 pathology tests available that you can take from the safety of your home, which range from blood tests to check your thyroid, to full screens for common STIs.

With tests like the Essential Blood Test which examines 40 biomarkers that GPs commonly test for, the Tiredness and Fatigue Check, which analyses biomarkers that your GP will recognise as relevant for people who are tired all the time, and diagnostic tests for diabetes, liver function and more, there is no reason why being at home should prevent you from getting tests you need for your doctor to make a diagnosis and start treatment. 

Can I monitor my condition from home?

Many people with conditions like diabetes and high cholesterol have regular routine blood tests to monitor how well they are controlling their symptoms with medication (or, if appropriate, through lifestyle changes). This group also includes people who are taking hormone replacement, whether for a thyroid condition 
or testosterone replacement.

It is also essential for people taking medication for things like high blood pressure or depression to have a regular medication review blood test before receiving a repeat prescription. This is to ensure that the medication isn't damaging any of the body's organ systems, especially the liver and kidneys. Most GPs have been advised to stop doing anything other than essential blood tests during the self-isolation period. However, if you are concerned about your medication dose, or the effect your medication might be having on your body, then you can get many of the routine monitoring tests you need through our online service. 

How does a home blood test work?

Buy your test online, and we will send you everything you need to collect your sample at home. We ask you to create an account and provide some details about your lifestyle and your medical history. This is your opportunity to tell our doctors anything that you would like them to know before they report on your results. Then the only thing you need to do is post your sample to our lab in the envelope provided. If you are unable to leave your house, you might like to ask a neighbour to post your sample for you. Once the lab has analysed your sample and sent the results back to us electronically, our doctors will write a personal report based on the information you have given them. If our doctors think it is important that you discuss your results with your GP, they will let you know. Your results, along with our doctor's comments, will be uploaded to your online dashboard, which you can access at any time.

Are the tests the same as the tests I get through my doctor?

Yes, most of the tests are identical; the only differences are the way that your sample is collected and the fact that you need to send your sample through the post. 

At-home blood samples are normally finger-prick rather than venous (where blood is taken through a vein in your arm). You only need to fill one or sometimes two, very small microtainers (tiny test tubes), which are then analysed at the lab using the same analysers you would find in most NHS laboratories.

Home blood testing, which relies on the postal service, means that sometimes there can be a day or two between you collecting your sample and it arriving at the lab. Our vast experience of working with postal samples means that we know which biomarkers may be unstable in the post. We make sure that we exclude these from at-home blood tests. This might mean that some of the biomarkers your doctor would expect to see in a profile may be missing. However, these are normally found in more extensive profiles like liver function tests where the remaining biomarkers are sufficient to build a picture of your liver health. 

Can I share my results with my GP?

We don't yet have the facility for you to share your results with your GP electronically (but we're working on it). However, we do give you the facility to download and print your results so that you can email them to your GP. The PDF shows the name of the laboratory that analysed your sample and confirms that it is a UKAS accredited lab, so your GP will know that these results are accurate and reliable. You can read more about the laboratories that we use here.

Home blood testing is already a tried and tested service that Medichecks has been delivering seamlessly to many thousands of customers a year. Take a look at our range of at-home tests or contact our customer care team if you need some advice on which test to buy. Self-isolation brings many challenges; getting a blood test doesn't have to be one of them.