Remote lab tests
We’ve already seen direct-to-consumer sites like 23andMe and EverlyWell begin offering genetic testing and panels for thyroid, hormones, and food sensitivities. These companies send a testing box requiring the consumer to send back blood, saliva, or urine that is then analyzed at the company lab.
Although these aren’t in the same category as actual health care at the moment, they are a glimpse into what could be possible in the future, as companies have proven that there is a demand for at-home testing options. They have also paved the way for improved testing by making consumers more comfortable with the idea of having lab work done at home. Currently, telemedicine companies are looking to add lab services to their offerings, for example an at-home test kit
for strep throat or UTIs.
In the meantime, home health care patients are already benefiting from more sophisticated remote lab testing. For example, LabCorp’s Lab-in-a-Box and Lab-in-an-Envelope
offerings allow home health care providers to collect blood samples for a variety of tests at the patient’s home and send to LabCorp via FedEx.
There has also been a growing interest in more at-home primary care, especially for patients with severe chronic conditions who have trouble leaving the home. These patients are often the highest users of healthcare services, but their limited mobility makes it difficult to see a doctor regularly. Instead, they often resort to using ambulances and emergency rooms to access care. Because of these factors, this patient group has extremely high rates of hospitalization and hospital readmission.
Similarly to telemedicine, primary care house calls for those with chronic conditions could help manage these conditions better and preemptively identify problems sooner, leading to lower rates of hospitalization. It’s a shift towards prevention-based care instead of intervention, and so far, the numbers appear to support this approach. In the Independence at Home Project, 17 practices providing home-based primary care all
saw reduced ER visits, hospitalizations, and 30-day readmissions during the five-year project period.5
There are also companies looking to bring urgent-care type services to the home, such as Heal
. Their app enables physician house calls for conditions commonly treated at the emergency department or urgent care, such as sprains and ear infections. On another front, Mercy Care and Philips have teamed up for a pilot study
with seniors that can provide home health care for urgent care using the Lifeline medical alert system. The program is trying to reduce readmissions and improve patient quality of life. As programs and companies such as these continue to emerge, it seems likely that more and more care will take place at home.