What’s next for at-home diagnostic testing: 4 trends to watch in 2024
Healthcare is becoming more personalized than ever before. A more informed and engaged population opens up significant opportunities for at-home diagnostic testing to reach its full potential, as consumers who want to stay one step ahead of health issues also demand convenience, reliability, affordability, and comprehensive support from the healthcare system.
In a recent survey from Huron Consulting, more than two-thirds of consumers want to use apps to manage their care, while 70% are interested in receiving care at home to better manage their health.
At-home diagnostics can help meet these needs. Sending tests to the home allows patients to complete self-collection kits in a private setting whenever is most convenient, increasing the likelihood of participation and decreasing barriers to care.
As 2024 approaches, what top trends will drive ongoing adoption of at-home diagnostic testing?
1. Expanding test types: At-home testing has moved beyond the basics of drugstore pregnancy tests or even COVID collection kits. A huge variety of self-administered tests are now available for a range of conditions, including tests for STDs, thyroid function, and vitamin D levels, as well as those related to diabetes, heart, liver, and kidney concerns. With additional test types coming to market all the time, patients will have more and more options for participating in necessary care at home.
2. Biopharma enters the picture: Whether it’s offering a diagnostic test directly or promoting access to free testing offered by a third party, in the coming year we can expect to see a trend of more biopharma companies engaging in at-home testing initiatives as part of Disease State Awareness campaigns. These consumer-centric testing programs will not only broaden access to care, promoting health equity, but also lead to more comprehensive screening, which in turn will lead to a broader uptick of appropriate therapies. All of this results in better, more personalized patient experiences and improved health outcomes at both the individual and population health levels.
3. Deepening integration with all types of digital health: In addition, 2024 will bring closer integration of at-home testing with other digital strategies such as telehealth and remote patient monitoring (RPM). This will create a seamless, on-demand environment where patients can work with providers to interpret results, develop comprehensive care plans, and stay in contact in between scheduled consults. By building a digital-first ecosystem around the patient, providers and consumers can reduce friction, control costs, and improve access to care.
4. Blurring lines between traditional care modalities: Care teams are getting bigger, broader, and more collaborative as new digital tools and new care strategies combine to shift the status quo. For example, retail pharmacies are now taking on tasks traditionally assigned to primary care, and getting more involved in chronic disease management while biopharma companies supplement clinical efforts to keep patients adherent to their care plans. These new roles will be essential as the number of primary care providers continues to dwindle. In 2024 and beyond, the healthcare industry has the chance to view these changes as an opportunity to optimize care delivery and expand the availability of personalized services, including in-home diagnostics.
As convenience, cost, and consumerism remain top-of-mind going into 2024, healthcare stakeholders will need to consider offering more at-home tests to people seeking more involvement and control in their healthcare. Pharmacies and biopharma companies should consider looking for partners with experience in the space and the ability to scale as demand continues to increase.
For example, potential partners should operate CLIA-certified and CAP-accredited labs to process FDA-approved self-collection kits. These self-collection kits should come with easy-to-follow instructions and pre-paid return envelopes to simplify the process. And partners should be committed to success the first time by offering patients assistance from a trained clinician during self-collection, the ability to visit a nearby patient service center for guidance, and the opportunity for a telehealth follow-up to explain results.
On the back end, program administrators should have access to online portals that provide status updates, kit delivery dates, individual and aggregate results to track performance, and other key metrics for ensuring efficient, cost-effective operations. Full visibility across the lifespan of program performance is critical for making informed decisions, driving compliance, and proactively addressing gaps in care for consumers.
By investing in at-home testing, healthcare leaders can capitalize on one of the most important trends of 2024 – offering proactive, cost-effective, patient-centered care that is delivered when, where, and how consumers want it.