Healthcare News

At-Home Testing for COVID-19

April 20, 2020 By

Quick and accurate detection of COVID-19 is vital to controlling the outbreak. As COVID-19 continues to be a major part of all of our lives, you’ve probably heard stories on the news about limited testing supplies. Or maybe you or a loved one have experienced the struggle of trying to get a test for yourselves.

The good news is that SteadyMD will be offering members an option to order an at-home COVID-19 sputum test, pending certain symptoms and availability.

At-Home Testing for COVID-19

Sputum Test

This test uses a person’s saliva and mucus to determine whether he or she is infected with COVID-19. To perform this test, you spit into a sterile bottle, and then your sample is shipped to a lab where it will be evaluated. No interaction with a healthcare worker is required, reducing potential for person-to-person spread of the virus while testing. The process requires less invasive procedures than the nose swab test.

Before you order the test, please consider whether, based on your symptoms, you could produce enough saliva and mucus needed for diagnostic evaluation. For someone experiencing a dry cough or severe sore throat as part of their symptoms, for example, producing enough sputum could be difficult. In order to ensure the accuracy of your results, please consider this before ordering the kit.

The test will cost $99 out-of-pocket (plus shipping) and has a 24-hour turnaround time from time of receipt. It includes easy step-by-step collection directions for patients. Once you mail it back in, it will be shipped overnight back to a lab. SteadyMD will source the tests from MicroGenDX, a laboratory with the capacity to test 10,000 samples per day.

If you think you may require a sputum test, please consult with your SteadyMD doctor. If you haven’t yet signed up with a personal SteadyMD doctor, take the doctor-patient matching quiz to get started.

Antibody Test

At-home blood tests are currently being developed to test for COVID-19 antibodies. These tests are expected to be ready in approximately 4-6 weeks. Unlike the sputum test, which would be taken while someone is actively experiencing symptoms, the antibody test would be taken after symptoms have alleviated, in order to determine whether the illness was caused by COVID-19 or something else. The test involves a simple finger prick that can detect antibodies in your body that have formed against the new coronavirus.

This test will indicate whether a person had previously been infected with COVID-19, even if he or she is no longer symptomatic. After someone becomes infected with the virus, the body’s natural defense mechanisms launch an immune response. The antibody kit tests for signs of immunity within the bloodstream. Once fully developed (which won’t happen for at least another month), the at-home antibody test can be directly sent to the patient, pending certain criteria.

In-Person Testing for COVID-19

The nasal swab test has been the primary in-person test to detect for the new coronavirus in people showing symptoms. These tests are being performed in hospitals, urgent care facilities, and drive-up testing centers. It’s important to note that many of these centers require that you be displaying certain symptoms in order to qualify to be tested, due to limited supply of testing swabs. Before you visit a center, call your state or local health department to find out whether you’d qualify for testing.

While nasal swabs are recommended ways of testing for COVID-19, the collection process itself requires close contact between healthcare workers and patients. Even with safety precautions in place, this interaction poses a risk of transmission of the virus to the healthcare workers. Non-interaction is a key advantage of remote, at-home testing.

If your SteadyMD doctor recommends in-person testing, SteadyMD will contact testing centers for you. Please note that patients cannot show up at testing sites and be guaranteed testing. You must call ahead first, and a note from a doctor is often needed.

*****

If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms you believe to be indicative of COVID-19, please consult with your SteadyMD doctor right away. Together, you can evaluate whether an at-home test is necessary. If so, your doctor can help coordinate the testing.

SteadyMD uses the official HIPAA-compliant Zoom for healthcare, ensuring extra security. We are continuously monitoring and evaluating at-home testing options in order to provide our patients with the most effective forms of diagnosis and treatment.

A word of caution regarding at-home tests:

There have been reports in the media of companies selling illegitimate at-home testing kits. Please only order a kit directly referred to you by your doctor in order to ensure you’re getting the real thing.

For more information about COVID-19 testing, we recommend reading this fact sheet from the CDC.

*****

SteadyMD is a telehealth service built on trusting, long-term, collaborative relationships with a dedicated doctor, online – the same doctor every time. Learn more here.