Lab tests are an important diagnostic tool. Lab tests can be used to detect almost any health condition and based on the reports produced, a doctor suggests medication and other forms of treatment. These tests require a small sample of the patient’s blood or urine which is then analysed to provide in-depth information about the person’s health. Most people are accustomed to heading into a lab physically. But there is an easier option – online booking of diagnostic tests.
Online lab test bookings allow you to book the specific test you need and have your samples collected from the comfort of your home. This procedure is conducted by trained professionals who are known as phlebotomists, after which your sample reports can also be accessed online. Most of the labs are now trying to provide the facility of home collection of samples to make it safe and easy for the people. The risk of exposure to crowds can be minimised to a great extent.
What are the pros and cons of both these options? Let us take a look.
How Does Online Testing Work
The convenience of an online lab test is not truly realized until you give it a try yourself. Using a healthcare platform (such as the PharmEasy app), you can select the type of test you require. You will get detailed information about what the test covers. After that, you’ll be asked to choose a date and time of your preference. Be sure to follow any pre-test instructions from your doctor (such as fasting) on the day of the test.
At the appointed time, a trained phlebotomist will visit your residence and in a short, quick and painless procedure will draw a small sample of your blood. For urine tests, you will be provided with a sample container and you will need to fill it up. Irrespective of blood or urine or a swab your sample will then be taken to a diagnostic lab for testing.
Within the specified duration of time, your test report should be available online and you can also avail of a physical copy of the same if needed. You should share this with your doctor or a specialist for an accurate diagnosis.
But Is Online Testing Safe?
Online diagnostic testing is conducted according to strict protocols to ensure the safety of not only the patients but also the medical staff involved. Some of the factors that increase the safety of booking an online test are:
- Phlebotomist Training – Phlebotomy training typically lasts for 1 year, students are trained in anatomy, basic safety procedures, how to safely draw blood from the veins (and from the arteries for minor samples) while also receiving practical training in a clinical setting. These are the kind of trained medical staff that will arrive at your doorstep when you book an online lab test.
- COVID-19 Safety Measures – As per WHO guidelines, sample collection staff will always wear a mask, sanitize their hands frequently, wear fresh gloves after sanitizing (and dispose of the same after each sample collection), take their temperature frequently and never leave any waste behind in your home.
- Standard Safety Measures – The standard protocol is to only use a one-time collection kit for each individual to ensure the highest safety. They will also enquire about any fears you may have of the procedure and monitor for any strange reactions. These are just a few of the standard safety measures employed during the home collection procedure. Additionally, in the case of offline sample collection, there is an increased risk of exposure to infectious agents wherein in the case of online testing, the sample collection process takes place safely from your home.
- Careful Handling of the Samples – The samples that are collected are immediately transported to the diagnostic lab as per the storage protocols for a given sample eg. some samples may require transportation in ice-boxes to prevent quality degeneration. The samples are barcoded and marked carefully to leave no room for a mix-up.
It’s Safe But Is It Accurate?
The surprising truth is, after the collection is complete, there is virtually no difference in testing quality between online lab tests and going to a lab personally. Your sample is sent to the same, high-quality lab and treated with the same importance regardless of the sample collection location.
This means that the quality and accuracy of your report will not have inconsistencies. You may be nervous reading your online report after your test is complete, however, your doctor will be able to accurately decipher the relevant information. Additionally, you can find online resources to gauge the normal parameters for the condition being checked in your report.
Apart from checking the certification of the lab that has processed the sample, the report should be reviewed by a certified pathologist or a doctor.
Pros and Cons of Online Testing Vs. Regular Testing
When you go into a diagnostic centre, you may need to wait in line with others indefinitely, while with the home collection there is no waiting involved. So, it is time-saving which is a huge advantage in your daily fast-paced life. Another benefit to online lab tests with a home collection is that you needn’t wait for your nearest lab to be open, you can book for collection from any of the hundreds of local clinics without undergoing the hassle of travelling there.
Since you don’t need to visit the hospital or clinic, you avoid the risk of catching any infectious disease that may be doing the rounds. This is especially true for COVID-19, with many doctors advising patients to use online testing rather than walking into the lab. It saves time, effort and thins the crowds at medical institutions negating chances of superspreading. Home testing helps you avoid the risk of contracting COVID-19 by eliminating the need to leave your house and keeping you safe from venturing into crowded hospitals.
The benefit that in-person testing has over online lab tests is in the scope of tests available. Online testing is limited to blood, nasal and throat swabs and urine tests, while other types of diagnostic tests will always require you to come in physically (such as for CT scans, X Rays, Sonography, etc).
There is no difference in the quality of the tests booked online or done at your local lab. The pricing of these online tests is virtually the same compared to regular counterparts, with the added perk of not having to spend money on transportation. You can check the prices online with a few taps on your phone. A reputed online platform like PharmEasy will have your samples sent to the finest certified diagnostic centres in the country, which means you needn’t worry about the standard of the laboratories. An online lab test with the home collection has all the safety, accuracy and quality of a regular test but offers greater convenience and much less stress.
Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.