Laboratory on the Fingertips: A Revolution in Healthcare
- Post By : Kumar Jeetendra
- Source: Microbioz India magazine
- Date: 01 June, 2017
The surrounding and environment around us keep on changing and at times you may get exposed to a number of health issues. Obesity is one such problem which has now crawled into the lives of teenagers and young adults. Similarly, there are many other health related issues which have started to affect us. Whatever you try or do, you can’t be completely sure that the disease will not enter into your lives. However, by being cautious and by keeping a regular check on your health, you can prevent yourselves from any disease.
But with increasing family responsibilities and work which consume most of your time, there is just a short period of time left for yourselves.
The pressure at work has taken a toll on your health. When health and fitness should be your topmost priority, you often forget to concentrate on it completely. The reason is your fast paced life that leaves us with little choice. But, in this world where you can get everything home delivered, a new change has welcomed by the healthcare industry as you and they have brought us the laboratory tests that can be performed at the convenience of your homes. There are numerous benefits which these home-based laboratory tests offer us.
The article discusses, in brief, some of the tests that can be performed in the comfort of your own homes and how these home based tests have brought the laboratory on your fingertips allowing us to monitor your health at periodic time intervals without wasting your precious time in commuting to and from to the clinic.
COMMON HOME-BASED TESTS AND PROCEDURES
Cholesterol Test: It is a quantitative test that measures the total amount of cholesterol present in the blood. Sometimes, the triglyceride measurement is also included in the test kit.It is done to assess the risk of heart disease. High cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease by clogging the blood vessels of the heart thus decreasing the oxygen supply to the heart.
Test Procedure: To perform the test, the finger is pricked with a lancet to get a drop of blood. Then the drop of blood is put on a piece of paper that contains special chemicals. The amount of color change in the paper indicates how much cholesterol is in present in the blood. In some testing kits, a small machine is used which tells how much cholesterol is there is in the sample.
Hepatitis C Test: Hepatitis C infection is caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Untreated, hepatitis C can lead to liver disease. It is a qualitative test that checks whether you have the infection or not. It does not tell anything about how advanced the disease is.
Test Procedure: The test kit contains a small piece of filter paper, a lancet, and instructions for taking a blood sample and placing it on the filter paper. To perform the test, the finger is pricked with the lancet to obtain a drop of blood. Then that drop of blood is put on a piece of filter paper and sent in a special container to the testing laboratory.
The laboratory analyzes the filter paper by performing a preliminary (screening) test that separates the samples into three groups:
• Samples that are clearly positive,
• Samples that might be positive, and
• Samples that are negative.
All samples that "might be positive" have to go through a more specific (confirmatory) test to find those that are truly positive. All the "clearly positives" from the preliminary test and the "truly positives" from the more specific test are reported as positive.
It must also be noted that a positive result does not mean that you are infected with HCV. It might also indicate that you had this infection in the past. In such cases, one should see a doctor for further testing and information.
At the same time, a negative test does not guarantee that you don't have HCV infection because it takes some time for you to develop antibodies after you are infected with this virus. If you think you you're exposed to the virus and might be infected, you should see your doctor for a more accurate laboratory test.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Test: HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system and causes AIDS i.e., Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome. It is fatal to your health and if untreated can completely destroy the immune system. The HIV test is done to find out if you can HIV infection.
Test Procedure: The kit comes with sterile lancets, an alcohol pad, gauze pads, a blood specimen collection card, a bandage, a lancet disposal container, a shipping pouch, and instructions. To do the test, you
• call a specified telephone number,
• register a code number that is included with the specimen collection kit,
• prick your finger with a lancet to get a drop of blood,
• place drops of blood on the card,
• send the shipping pouch by express courier service to the central testing laboratory,
• receive results by phone after 3-7 business days later, and
• if you test positive for HIV, you get counseling on what to do about yyour infection.
These are just some of the tests which can be performed at your homes, there are many more in the list. These tests are a result of extensive research in the area of diagnostic tests realizing the importance of early diagnosis in your life and it helps in treating any disease and even in gaining control of the disease. An accurate diagnosis leads to perfect treatment and can return the patient to full health. At the same time, the consequences of a wrong diagnosis can be devastating and can prove to be fatal for the patient.
Thus, an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment go hand in hand. People from all over the world are making use of these tests in their day-to-day life. However, not all the tests are meant to be performed every day. Some tests should be performed on a periodic basis or in case you are more exposed to some of the factors which might cause infection, the tests can be performed more often.
ADVANTAGES OF HOME BASED LABORATORY TESTS
Easy and efficient
Home based laboratory tests are easy as they can be done at the luxury of your own homes i.e., you don’t need to search for any commutation as the services are brought to your doorstep. This means that a person who constantly looks for reasons to avoid tests due to the traffic and other personal issues can go for this option. This reduces his waiting time at a clinic as he will be the only one going to get tested.
When health and fitness should be your topmost priority, you often forget to concentrate on it completely. The reason is your fast paced life that leaves us with little choice.
At your convenience
Laboratory tests can be done whenever you have time. i.e., you don’t need to check your calendar for fixing an appointment to get tested. You can perform the tests according to the schedule that suits us, and not the other way around. The option of total flexibility allows us to bend your testing hour based on your availability.
Hygienic, healthy & Confidential
As you do these tests yourselves, the fear of clinic hygiene is lost with home lab-tests. Environment’s cleanliness is vital in preventing disease epidemic. While the fear always lingers, home tests reduce the tension as you are aware of the environment. Also, the needles and other test equipment used are completely sterile and safe. Moreover, you can keep the results confidential & private.
Despite these numerous benefits which these home-based laboratory tests offer, one should take precautions while using them.
Though these home use laboratory tests are made to help you with your health care, these tests should not replace periodic visits to your doctor.
Many times, you should talk to your doctor even if you get normal test results. Most tests are best evaluated together with your medical history, a physical exam, and other testing. So, you should always see your doctor whenever you are feeling sick, or whenever you are worried about a possible medical condition, or if the test instructions recommend you to do so.
REFERENCES: 1. https://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/InVitroDiagnostics/HomeUseTests/default.htm 2. http://imj.ie/a-correct-diagnosis-is-of-increasing-importance-2/