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Reliable at-home blood collection is key to delivering comprehensive telehealth services 

How remote sample collection can make lab testing easier and more accessible to patients  

The pandemic’s lasting impact on our normal way of living will take decades to fully understand, but one change is certain — COVID-19 has brought everyone and everything a little closer to home. Even as case counts decline, society continues to embrace the convenience, time savings, and minimized exposure risk that come from services being brought to your doorstep.  

The healthcare industry has joined in this domestic shift by providing more options for patients to receive medical services and treatment without leaving home. After decades of slow adoption, the concept of telehealth is garnering more attention as patients and providers see firsthand how efficient and cost-effective remote options can make seeking healthcare safer, easier, and more convenient.¹, ², ³

Overall, telehealth has the potential to eliminate common barriers to care and improve healthcare access, which is a key factor influencing patient compliance.  Better adherence to scheduled care and improved health insights over time could lead to more favorable patient outcomes, making the prospect of telehealth services continuing beyond COVID-19 especially exciting. 

As regulators and payers consider the fate of telehealth policies post-pandemic, challenges and uncertainties remain. To ensure the recent momentum driving remote care options continues, new solutions and care models that demonstrate telehealth’s cost benefits, clinical advantages, and long-term sustainability will be key. With 70% of medical decisions based on lab results, reliable remote sampling for diagnostic testing and monitoring will be an essential part of effective, comprehensive remote care models of the future. 

 

At-home blood collection makes an inconvenient process more accessible to key patient populations 

While everyone can benefit from more flexible healthcare options, some patient populations could find at-home sample collection for laboratory testing especially valuable.  

Patients who need their blood drawn frequently

Simply put, people are busy and going to the lab for a blood test can be inconvenient. The travel to and from the facility takes precious minutes away from the day and wait times are often unpredictable. If you don’t have a car, coordinating transportation is an added challenge and public transit options have associated costs. Work might also be missed if a lab is only open during regular business hours, resulting in lost wages. 

For patients who have chronic health conditions that require more regular monitoring – including transplant recipients and those who are immunocompromised – the need for frequent lab visits goes beyond the occasional hassle and introduces a rigorous testing schedule that is sometimes difficult to manage. Providing an option for at-home sample collection would save these patients time and alleviate some of the stresses associated with the constant demand of medical appointments.   

People who live far from laboratory sites

Even if you have blood tests done infrequently, living far away from a lab testing facility poses a logistical challenge. Consider the situation where a patient’s home is hours from the closest medical facility. During an annual physical exam, they learn it is time for routine bloodwork that requires fasting. They’ve already eaten breakfast and will now need to dedicate another day to return for their test.   

Remote blood collection for diagnostic testing can save people who live in rural areas a significant amount of time and could improve compliance if people are not able to take the time to travel to the lab. Instead of having to make a special trip for routine tests, these patients can leverage the much easier process of collecting a sample at home and sending it out to the lab by mail, no extra time or travel necessary.  

Those who have a fear of needles

Being able to collect a lab sample from the comfort of your home offers multiple advantages to patients who experience anxiety in medical settings, which are many. Up to a quarter of adults have reported experiencing a fear of needles6 and as many as one in three people suffer from white coat syndrome, or an increase in blood pressure in clinical environments. The quiet comfort of one’s own space along with the short needle and finger prick method employed by many at-home collection devices provide the recommended setting to help alleviate the pain and fear associated with blood draws.

Anyone looking to avoid infectious disease exposure

In recent years, the main driver of telehealth has been the ability to maintain continuity of care without increasing the risk of patient exposure to COVID-19. Although the threat of SARS-CoV-2 is expected to fluctuate over time, people are likely to remain wary of infectious disease transmission, in general, well into the future.  

The need to travel to a lab and sit in a crowded waiting room to get a blood test might feel risky and can deter patients, especially during an active flu season or a COVID-19 surge. Home collection devices that rely on mail exchange instead of onsite visits and person-to-person interactions can provide the safe lab test experience patients need to remain compliant.   

 

The VELVETᵀᴹ device enables remote blood collection with a premium user experience 

With its elegant and easy-to-use design, Velvet offers a reliable option to enable home self-collected blood samples and the increased adoption and sustained utility of telehealth models. After the user collects several drops of blood via finger prick, unique technology leveraging internal metering, anticoagulation, and desiccation delivers a self-contained sample separated into red blood cell and plasma components. The blood components within the device remain stable, with no refrigeration or expedited shipping required to return the sample to the lab. When using the Velvet collection device, patients, providers, and clinical trial coordinators can have peace of mind that a testable sample has been collected. 

Velvet is an FDA-listed, CE-IVD, Health Canada device available for assay developers to promote wide adoption of remote blood collection for testing. We encourage our partners to evaluate the performance of their proprietary assays and lab-developed tests on the Velvet device. One of our lab partners, for example, validated samples from the Velvet device for their analyte menu, including HbA1c, ALT, AST, TSH.  

If you are interested in using the Velvet blood collection device for lab evaluation, please contact us at partnerships@weavrhealth.com to learn more or request a sample.  

 

References: 

1. Patients want to continue using telehealth even after pandemic ends | Healthcare Finance News  

2. Providers Want Equal Telehealth Reimbursement Beyond COVID-19 (revcycleintelligence.com)

3. Cancer Docs Say Telehealth Improves Access to Care, Hedge on Cost (mhealthintelligence.com)  

4. https://www.who.int/chp/knowledge/publications/Adherence_section2.pdf?ua=1  

5. Strengthening Clinical Laboratories | CDC  

6. Pinkbook: Vaccine Administration | CDC  

7. Measure Your Blood Pressure | cdc.gov  

8. Needle Fears and Phobia – Find Ways to Manage | CDC