New at-home allergy & STD kits save time & money

This at-home allergy test kit is offered by Virtual Lab Testing.
This at-home allergy test kit is offered by Virtual Lab Testing.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE)  A new diagnostic tool is available in Indiana that can save patients both time and money.

A Noblesville-based company has launched at-home allergy and STD kits for people to use in the privacy of their own home, without a trip to the doctor.

Kraig Kincaid of Virtual Lab Testing LLC said research shows there’s a huge need for these tests.

“When we first started researching the allergy test about a year and a half ago, we looked at Amazon and we saw just the word allergy at that time was searched 5 million times per month nationwide. When you include allergy symptoms, allergy remedies, it was 50 million. I turned to my partner and said, ‘I never would’ve checked Amazon in the first place. I would’ve gone to Google’ which the numbers were two to three times larger than that. So the consumer is looking for some sort of answer. We’re just trying to bring it to them, direct at home.”

The allergy kit tests for the 30 most common allergens, including 12 of the most common food allergies like milk, eggs, and nuts. Instead of the traditional tests that require patients to be subjected to scratched or injected or involve drawing two to three vials of the blood, this test uses three drops of blood.

“The point of the whole test is – I call it a screening diagnostic. And it just creates a more educated patient,” explained Kincaid. “You’re identifying what makes you feel bad and then you can start with the avoidance. If the avoidance doesn’t get rid of your symptoms, go to your doctor. We can even refer you to an allergist.”

Here’s how it works. Patients order the test online and it’s shipped to their door. They download the app to a mobile device and scan the barcode on the kit, which then prompts them to choose an appointment time.

“You pick out what time’s convenient for you and you will do something like FaceTime with a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant that’s licensed here in the state of Indiana. Ask whatever questions you want and she will also guide you through the test. So you do the three drop of blood, send it away to the lab in Chicago to be processed, and your results go back to the app so it’s HIPAA compliant within 10-14 days,” Kincaid said.

Once patients have the results, they do another consultation with a medical provider who can help explain the diagnosis, offer treatment options, and even offer a referral to a specialist.

In addition to convenience, Kincaid said the at-home test can be more cost effective.

“We’re going direct to the consumer. We aren’t billing insurance. It’s a cash pay model. An allergy test in a doctor’s office is going to be $1200. Online it’s $299. We can give them the billing codes for that allergy test so they can turn it in to their Athems, Cigna, United, whatever their health plan is and they can get credit toward their deductible so they can knock it down.”

Physicians see advantages to the at-home tests, according to Kincaid. “Do they feel threatened by it? Do they like it? Most of them love it. They have so many things going through their mind every day. There are a thousand disease states and a thousand medicines and formularies they have to remember. This helps the patient, they’re a more educated patient.”

As for accuracy, studies show it’s the exact same accuracy as the traditional blood testing, the ImmunoCAP, which is the gold standard. It’s 96% accurate,” said Kincaid.

Virtual Lab Testing also offers at-home testing for sexually transmitted diseases. Unlike others already available, which test for just one STD, this tests for the seven most common diseases.

“The advantage in Indiana is we can diagnose and treat,” Kincaid stressed. “So if someone is diagnosed with gonorrhea, the nurse practitioners can prescribe them an antibiotic so they can cure – so they basically get tested secretly and get cured secretly.”