Is Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) Lab Testing Bringing New Trends in Industry?

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Today, it’s no wonder that people are attracted to fitness and healthcare, whether it is having salads over pizza or checking the steps after walking a certain distance. From dieting and checking their heartbeat to losing weight and counting calories, people are increasingly adopting self-service healthcare options. The popularity of fitness and self-care has resulted in an exponential increase in direct-to-consumer (DTC) lab testing.

Let’s understand the recent developments and advancements in DTC lab testing, and how it impacts on patients’ well-being, healthcare and third-party providers, and health and wellness industries.

Understanding the Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) Lab Testing

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) lab testing is also known as consumer-directed testing, direct access testing or patient-initiated testing. Rather than booking the test from a healthcare provider, a patient or person can order a test directly from a lab company online.

DTC lab testing promotes awareness and personalization about health risks, diseases, and other traits. DTC lab testing provides accurate, reliable, and timely test results no matter where the test is taken. These tests are also confidential since the health provider and third-party persons are not involved. Moreover, patients can perform the test at home, which makes the testing convenient.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 14 billion lab tests are ordered annually, with 70% of medical decisions dependent on their results. Additionally, approx 260,000 CLIA-certified laboratories are available that accept human samples and represent the cornerstone of diagnostic medicine.

What are the Innovations in Direct-to-Consumer Lab Testing?

The COVID-19 pandemic expedited the adoption of online healthcare. Recently, with readily available COVID test kits, people can also perform this test at home. In the time of Covid-19, increased awareness of personal health has led to rapid growth in direct-to-consumer laboratory testing with a shorter time-to-market.

Consequently, health sectors are shifting their focus from being physically focused to being customer focused. They are constantly improving their services to enhance customer experience and make DTC lab testing effortless for individuals. Here are some DTC lab testing innovations:

Increase in Product Offerings

Companies are contributing to expanding their product offerings to include a wide range of lab tests, such as genetic testing, cancer screening, heart disease, and other personalized health checks. This will encourage consumers with even greater access to healthcare options and enable them to take a proactive approach to their health.

Additionally, some companies are providing attractive discounts and promotional offers. This is also impacting the increase in the use of DTC lab testing.

Advancements in Technology

Advances in technology are leading to the development of new and more accurate DTC wellness testing methods, such as wearable devices, non-disruptive testing methods, and smart health devices for the home.

Boosting Awareness

The awareness of DTC wellness testing is continuously growing as people become more aware of the advantages and convenience of these tests. This will drive demand for DTC lab tests.

Regulations for Accuracy and Reliability

As the healthcare sector is constantly growing, there is also likely to be increased regulatory oversight of DTC lab testing to assure the accuracy and reliability of these lab tests. This will provide greater confidence to customers in the results and help lower the risk of false positives or false negatives.

What are the Regulations and Guidelines in DTC Lab testing?

Increased awareness about personal health management has maximized the growth of the direct-to-consumer laboratory testing industry. However, data privacy and security are important to take care of, some healthcare organizations have set guidelines to protect patient data when using DTC lab testing. Let’s get detailed knowledge about safety rules and guidelines.

Regulatory Concerns

AACC supports extending customer access to Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) laboratory testing services that have verified analytical, clinical validity, and clinical utility. Currently, 37 states and the District of Columbia have permitted consumers to order some or all of their laboratory tests directly without the involvement of a physician or third-party agent.

In 2014 the federal government took a step in the same direction by issuing a regulation demanding clinical laboratories to provide individuals with access to their test data upon request. These policies have significantly involved consumers in health decisions that affect their lives.

Accuracy of Test Results

The accuracy of test results is very important since it helps determine the course of treatment and disease management. In recent research by the National Library of Medicine, An analysis of 49 patient samples finds high proportions of faulty positives and misunderstandings.

However, the accuracy of DTC tests depends on various factors, such as the quality of the sample collected, proper shipment, and stability of the specimen, as well as the specificity of the test. Indeed, the samples collected at home may contain unique issues regarding accuracy.

Privacy of Patients

We often see the misuse of data. In the case of the DTC lab test, many companies write their own privacy guidelines that consumers agree to when they purchase a lab test.

To avoid the misuse of data and keep patients’ personal information confidential, patient’s privacy is protected under the regulations of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

What are the New Trends in Direct-to-Consumer Lab Testing?

Businesses like 23andMe have made impressive marketing efforts to advertise their direct-to-consumer genetic tests via offline and online retail pharmacies. They make the process painless by taking mouth or nasal swabs, urine samples, or blood tests. Then these samples are sent by post to a lab. After samples get checked for biomarkers of certain diseases or genetic conditions, results are delivered to the customer via a secure online portal.

These advancements include the use of simple blood and urine samples for DTC fitness testing, as well as the development of genetic testing results with e-medical records in the field of precision medicine. Technological advancements have also made genetic testing more accessible by providing customers with personalized, secure, and convenient healthcare. Additionally, DTC lab testing rapidly increases patient and individual attention in monitoring their healthcare.

Additionally, to gain profitable revenue, companies are advertising their goods with appealing discounts and promotional offers, which is ultimately boosting product demand. Due to technological advancements, improvements in genome sequencing technology, and unrealized potential, development chances are increasing in the marketplace.

Several marketing trends are continuing to shape direct-to-consumer laboratory testing including the growing demand for early disease detection and diagnosis, personalized medicine, easy disease management, consumer acceptance, and developed technologies.

Final Thoughts on Direct-to-Consumer Lab Testing

The popularity of DTC lab testing is increasing rapidly and is expected to continue to grow in the future. The convenience and accessibility of these tests, as well as the low cost and availability, will play a significant role in the rising demand for direct-to-consumer laboratory testing. Innovations and increasing awareness of the benefits will further boost product demand.

While there are some limitations and concerns associated with it, the future looks bright for the DTC lab testing industry as companies continue to develop new and innovative products to meet the needs of consumers.

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