Telehealth has recently opened up the option for convenient at-home consultation, reviving the formerly long-gone days of doctor home visits. Today, the wide availability of at-home medical tests is giving people even more understanding of, and control over, their health. After taking a series of at-home medical tests this spring, I’m looking forward to even more development in this growing area of health care.
I’ve felt somewhat sick whenever I ate a meal for most of my adult life. After attempting a variety of isolation diets to no avail, I finally gave up and ordered a host of at-home medical tests to see what was going on. The route I took wasn’t exactly the cheapest, because I also paid for a consolidation for the results, but similar tests can be bought for between $50-200 online. With some thorough Googling, or the help of ChatGPT, the consultation information that I paid for could mostly be gotten for free, in exchange for a little bit of effort.
My test results showed that my hormones were a bit unbalanced, which was affecting my hunger levels and sugar cravings. Also, I am really really sensitive to gluten. It’s been about two and a half months since I got my results back and changed my diet—I feel so much better and have incidentally lost about 15 lbs so far.
Interestingly, my test results also showed that my gut was high (although not dangerously high) in three bacteria that some studies have connected to colon cancer. I have a family history of colon cancer, but a doctor probably wouldn’t recommend a colonoscopy until I’m in my 40s. This isn’t wrong, it’s the recommended practice, but it’s not my preference. In my late 20s, I’ll probably order an at-home test kit, because it will give me peace of mind.
The gradual rollout of at-home tests was largely kicked off with pregnancy tests, which first became available for consumer purchase in 1976. Today, Amazon, Target, and many other retailers sell at-home medical tests that help people investigate everything from their testosterone levels to seasonal allergy sensitivities.
After decades of medicating fertility with chemical birth control (the Pill, IUDs, Nexplanon, ect.) some women are looking for more natural birth control options and the market has responded. Identifying one’s ovulation window has never been easier, and it seems like new ovulation tracking apps and tools are popping up every few months.
These technologies will only improve as medical companies innovate AI models to read and make recommendations based on health data gathered with smartwatches and similar devices. Doctors won’t be replaced, but medical information will be more democratized as information models are built out.
Here’s what I hope to see in the near future:
- A language model that is able to help patients find doctors best suited to their needs. An example of a search request: “Find me an OBGYN who has worked with home delivery midwives, has positive patient reviews, and is covered by my insurance within 60 miles of my house.”
- A language mode that can create workout plans or diets using gathered health data (metabolism, hormones, muscle density). For example, a request could be: “Based on my BMI and activity level per day according to my Apple Watch, build me an exercise regimen so that I will be able to run a marathon in 6 months, and factor in my time spent at work and scheduled commitments.”
We should be mindful of data security, especially of our sensitive health data, but not fearful of medical advances that will come with improved consumer control and access to information.