TMCnet Feature
June 22, 2020

The Thriving Business of At-Home Disease Testing



The recent rise in the COVID-19 pandemic seen across the world has only added to the sense that obtaining some form of medical treatment at home is needed to protect oneself from illness. Over the last decade, home testing for medical conditions has grown in market share in the healthcare sector. The big question facing members of the traditional healthcare industry has been why so many individuals are now looking to diagnose themselves when it comes to certain medical problems. The use of home testing kits for COVID-19 in the U.K. and parts of the U.S. will have the effect of only driving up the use of home testing kits by the general public.



Stigma

There are many reasons why an individual would be reluctant to make an appointment with a physician. One of the most common is the need to undertake an STI test. One can imagine why at-home STI testing is so popular. Rates of some sexually transmitted infections, like HPV, are going down thanks to the development of a vaccine. Others, however, are on the rise, including gonorrhea and chlamydia.

Mistrust of the Medical Profession

Focusing solely on the U.S., the mistrust of the medical profession has been a major problem for many communities for decades. There, the African-American community has a deep mistrust of the medical community due to unethical studies and practices of the past. The most notorious of these studies was the Tuskegee Experiment, in which physicians monitored the rate of syphilis in African-American males without revealing the condition to each patient, despite the disease being curable with penicillin. 

However, the mistrust of the medical profession goes beyond the African-American community. The idea has taken root that members of the medical profession are mostly looking at commercial opportunities, not what’s best for their patients. This has led to the statistic that around 75 percent of those surveyed in 1966 trusted the medical profession compared to just 34 percent by 2012.

Cost is an Important Factor

There are many reasons why at-home testing has become so popular, including the belief that there are many problems with the medical industry far beyond the issues of mistrust. Instead, many experts are pointing to the high costs of testing at a traditional medical office or lab compared to the low cost of an at-home test. Some experts believe the majority of those looking to at-home testing do so because they are removing the major costs associated with a physician ordering similar tests.

High health insurance premiums and copays in the U.S. mean many people who are uncertain of their health are now looking for a better way of taking care of their health at a time when it’s never been so important. The fear of exorbitant medical bills is driving many people to at-home options that change the narrative of personal healthcare.

There are many diseases and medical conditions that can be tested for at-home without an expensive and time-consuming trip to the doctor's office. Instead, many people are looking to take their medical tests and future in their own hands by using at-home testing to identify everything from food allergies to genetic testing.



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