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Understanding Blood Tests Online

According to the United States Census Bureau there are over 318 million Americans living in the United States. Each one of those Americans needs reliable and quality healthcare and clinical diagnostic testing. Traditionally, most people would get their blood tests ordered when a doctor recommends them. This usually happens at the conclusion of an office visit. Nowadays however, people have begun deciding for themselves which lab tests to get and when to get them. This is a new concept for consumers and it has been a slow growing trend. Being able to order your own blood tests is something that some people seem fearful of. It seems like there is a hidden trick behind the curtain that is waiting to surprise them. The reality is that it’s a service that is underutilized and getting lab tests online is a growing trend that is picking up a head of steam.
 

Blood Test Abbreviations

Relatively not long ago doctors used observation and verbal assessment as a means of determining any medical condition. However, in a medical world nowadays blood tests are used as a primary source to determine any present condition. They enable the doctor to see how organs are functioning and how the body handles nutrients and waste products. There are countless numbers of blood tests, hence an enormous number of abbreviations. It's absolutely unnecessary to learn all of them; however, it is crucial to understand some of the common abbreviations. Quite often people have to turn to doctors for help, but if you learn to decode them yourself, you will not have to spend your time or money on doctor appointments.  There are 3 most common blood test abbreviations that everyone should know.

The first one is HDL and LDL cholesterol, which refers to High Density Lipoprotein and Low Density Lipoprotein, the latter being the bad cholesterol. The second is CPR, which stands for C-Reactive protein and indicates inflammation within the body. TSH – Thyroid Stimulation Hormone, responsible for proper function of metabolism.  The table below reveals the most common blood test abbreviations:

Abbreviation
Stands for
Description
HDL
High Density Lipoprotein
Level of good cholesterol in your blood.
LDL
Low Density Lipoprotein
Level of bad cholesterol in your blood.
CPR
C-Reactive Protein
Level of inflammation with the body. If your immune system is fighting an infection or illness, your CPR will be higher.
CBC
Complete Blood Count
Analysis of 15 different blood test readings to provide information of your overall health.
TSH
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone
Thyroid regulates the function of your metabolism. Low levels can lead to weight loss, while high levels lead to weight gain.
ESR
Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate
Indicates the time it takes for red blood cells to move down a tube. This shows signs of inflammation within a body.
INR
International Normalized Ratio
This is a blood clotting test.
LFT
Liver Function Test
This test reveals the levels of waste products, enzymes and proteins that are processed by your liver.
CMP
Comprehensive Metabolic Panel
This analysis provides an overall picture of the metabolism and chemical balance of your body.
WBC
White Blood Cell Count
The level of white blood cells.
RBC
Red Blood Cell Count
The level of red blood cells.
HBC
Hemoglobin
Level of hemoglobin molecules.
HCT
Hematocrit
Similar to RBC but in percentage.
PLT
Platelets
Platelets levels in your blood.

 

Benefits of Ordering Independent Blood Tests

People have different reasons for making such independent decisions. Some want to keep track of cholesterol or hemoglobin A1C levels based on their diabetes situation. Others want to assure their blood tests will screen negative for drugs prior to a job search, test for the presence of a disease like hepatitis C or AIDS, or obtain a chemistry panel that provides a broad picture of their overall health. The principal reason for consumer-directed blood tests however, is an economic one and a time issue. Uninsured people and those with high-deductible insurance plans find it less expensive to do-it-themselves, since it avoids the cost of an office visit. For the uninsured, the ability to order these blood tests online is incredibly beneficial. The convenience to save money not having to visit their physician is a very attractive concept. Most individuals that order a lab test online state that not having to visit their doctor to get a lab prescription is the number one reason to adopt this. The time savings is immeasurable and difficult to quantify but well received by consumers adopting to order online lab tests.

 

Cost Comparison: Online Blood Test vs. Doctor’s Visit

The savings can add up in many different ways. A lipid profile (including cholesterol levels) obtained from an online lab testing company costs about $40. A hemoglobin A1C blood test usually runs a bit less. Two doctor visits to the local clinic can typically cost $150 or more if you are paying out of pocket and this can be the case for millions of Americans that are not insured. Let’s not forget what your time is worth having to make the time and effort to visit your doctor.
 

Commonly Ordered Blood Tests Online

Although hundreds of blood tests can be obtained in this manner, the most commonly sought-after tests are lipid profiles, C-reactive protein (a new measure of cardiac risk), liver tests and kidney function tests, vitamin D levels, antinuclear antibody tests and hormone levels including estrogens and testosterone. There are other online blood tests that are trending in popularity as well. Allergy blood tests are becoming more routine. Now with all of the allergies that are prevalent in children, parents are having their children allergy tested more frequently. This is considered immunological blood tests that never used to be available. Now that immunology technology is making positive breakthroughs in blood testing technologies, the peanut butter allergy blood tests are now available.
lab testing device
Consumers have plenty of ways to get blood work tests done on their own. Many simple tests are available at drugstore clinics and health fairs, for example. Those interested in tracking their cholesterol levels over time can purchase either single-use devices for about $15 or reusable devices, usually for under $100. These kits are readily available but may not be as accurate as the technologies that are available in a 21st century clinical diagnostic laboratory environment. Clinical diagnostics labs are certified to be safe, secure and reliable testing environments that each state must license. These labs must also be CLIA certified. The Clinical Laboratory Act of 1988 requires all clinical labs that perform blood tests to be licensed and certified.
 

Advancements in Blood Test Technology

According to Washington G-2 reports, people spent nearly $20 million for blood tests through companies that provide lab tests online, and annual growth for these services is projected to be 15-20% over the next few years. These projections may seriously underestimate the demand if newer, lab-on-a-chip technology continues to develop. This technology promises to cut waiting times for lab test results from several days to less than 30 minutes, a feature that will surely capture the mind and hearts of the educated health consumer. As the healthcare community becomes more patient centric, the technologies that are being sought after are focused on a more improved patient experience. Time spent, money out of pocket and inconvenience to the patient are the hurdles that biomedical engineers are trying to improve.  Far too long has the medical community designed services and technologies to focus on the needs and concerns of the physician while forgetting about what matters to the patient being managed. Providing the best technologies and the most affordable healthcare are what online lab tests provide to the consumer. This is why the average age of an online laboratory test consumer is between the ages of 35-45. These are forward thinking consumers that are taking their healthcare seriously and taking a more active role in managing their healthcare needs.
 

Web-Based Companies: Logistics and Advantages

Web-based companies permit consumers to order lab tests online without a prescription visit to the doctor. They contract with national laboratories like to draw the blood and run the test. There are an estimated 7,000 service centers that can be utilized between the two largest reference labs in the US. You can be sure there will be a lab testing collections service center within 10 miles of where you live. In most rural areas you may be looking at 15 to miles from your community. In most major metropolitan areas, collection facilities are less than five miles from each other. The firms usually have staff physicians that sign orders for tests without ever seeing patients. They also help consumers interpret the results, for example by emailing them with recommendations to see a doctor if their results fall outside normal ranges and by phoning anyone whose results suggest a serious abnormality. We are now entering into a new era of healthcare where consumers are able to manage their health more proactively. Giving the ability to order blood tests directly to consumers is a major step in the total personal healthcare revolution.