Ms. Terrie is a clinical pharmacy writer based in Haymarket, Virginia.
Adapted from reference 2.
Pharmacists can be a patient's best resource with regard to the proper selection of the various at-home diagnostic and monitoring tests currently on the market. These products fall into the personal diagnostics category. At-home diagnostic tests may assist patients in detecting or monitoring certain medical conditions, according to the FDA's Office of In Vitro Diagnostic Device Evaluation and Safety.1 At-home testing provides various advantages, such as privacy, convenience, ease of use, and low cost. The FDA classifies athome test kits into 2 categories1:
Self-diagnostic kits provide patients with information about their current health condition, which enables them to make informed decisions. Although the use of diagnostic kits may be convenient, the kits should never replace a follow-up visit with a physician. Proper use of these tests and adhering to the manufacturer's directions regarding testing protocol are crucial to obtaining accurate results.2 At-home diagnostic tests may provide a patient with valuable information and enable patients to seek medical intervention earlier, preventing further medical complications. The Table lists some of the various types of at-home tests available.
Types of Diagnostic Kits
Adapted from references 1 and 2
The FDA requires that at-home tests perform as well as those used by health care professionals; however, these tests must be used properly to ensure accurate results.2 Pharmacists can be a fundamental source of information for patients seeking the use of at-home diagnostic test kits, as well as making certain that patients are adequately counseled on their proper use. Often the selection of appropriate at-home tests may be based on ease of use, ease of interpreting results, presence of a control, and cost.2
During counseling, pharmacists also may assess the patient's symptoms and ascertain if immediate medical evaluation is warranted. It is important for patients to consult with a health care professional, if needed, as well as the patient information hotlines found in most kits, if patients are unsure about test results or testing procedure. Patients also should be reminded that although these testing kits may be beneficial, patients should always maintain routine visits to their primary health care provider.
Examples of Available At-Home Diagnostic Tests
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