The drawbacks of home tests include that consumers can easily self-diagnose and self-treat as well as misinterpret the results, says Sharon Geaghan, MD, an emerita associate professor of pathology at Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, California. Despite these potential risks, there are also many upsides to self-tests, including using them for diagnostics such as HIV and pregnancy testing as well as healthcare maintenance, including monitoring the effects of medications. Geaghan, a member of CLN’s Patient Safety Focus editorial board, covers these issues and more in the October issue of CLN.

What’s especially notable is the research that Geaghan presents in support of home tests for monitoring anticoagulation therapy by point-of-care (POC) prothrombin time and international normalized ratio (PT/INR). Not only have there been trials in favor of home testing, but studies also have shown that patients who home test can do better than those who regularly test at clinics, according to Geaghan.

In addition, she presents compelling evidence from a single-center study that compared conventional management of patients receiving oral medication with a self-testing program to determine reliability of the devices. “The researchers found that the proportion of time spent within the target range was significantly higher in self-testers compared to the clinic testing group. In fact, adverse events were significantly higher in the clinic testing group compared with the patient self-testing group,” explains Geaghan.

Geaghan also writes about the need for capturing the data from home testing in order for this practice to derive the most benefit. She recommends the use of a personal health record as a viable solution. The data are kept on a secure website and maintained by the patient or caregiver.

Read the full article in CLN.