how labs can use remote blood sampling during stay at home orders
by Neoteryx | 4 min read
In early 2020, communities around the globe saw our "normal" way of life disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. As the COVID-19 crisis escalated, public health experts advised social distancing, and governments limited group interactions through enforced stay at home orders to prevent cross-contamination.
A New Way of Life
The order of the day has become reducing the number of COVID-19 infections in every country on the planet. Public activities are still being discouraged worldwide in an effort to "level the curve," which would indicate that we are finally slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus that has caused the pandemic. We're not there yet. We need more help from the world of science, and scientific labs have a role to play in helping our communities. Labs can utilize remote blood collection for serology tests that detect SARS-CoV-2 antibodies and get us closer to developing effective vaccines and treatments.
Labs Can Offer Remote Blood Collection Options
Several labs in the United States and overseas are already running COVID-19 studies that utilize remote blood collection kits to gather blood samples from study participants by mail. These "virtual" studies are different from those that require study participants to visit the lab or clinic for a traditional blood draw or plasma draw using venipuncture. Those in-person visits can expose participants to contagions, and many people hope to avoid that risk. How can labs help? To allow participants to avoid unnecessary exposure to the coronavirus, many labs are now adopting a "telehealth" approach to COVID-19 studies by sending Mitra microsampling devices and Mitra Blood Collection Kits from Neoteryx to study volunteers for at-home blood collection.
How Mitra Microsampling Helps Labs Reach Remote Patients
The Mitra, a simple device designed for remote blood collection by anyone, anywhere, is included in remote blood collection kits with simple instructions and all the supplies needed for collecting a blood specimen. With Mitra, there is no need for a phlebotomist or other health worker to assist, which saves research labs and clinics valuable time and resources. Study participants can self-manage their own blood collection using a simple finger-stick method with a lancet. The participant absorbs a small drop of blood onto the tips of the Mitra devices. They put their blood sample into the enclosed packaging, and mail it back to the lab for testing and analysis.
Labs Can Easily Implement Mitra Blood Microsampling
Mitra devices are based on Volumetric Absorptive Microsampling, or VAMS® technology, which enables a precise volume of blood to be collected on the device tips for reliable lab analysis. Mitra 96-Autoracks™ enable high-throughput sample processing and are recommended by many lab directors. Mitra is compatible with standard lab equipment. This means labs can adopt Mitra microsampling with no need to purchase new equipment.
An improvement over the traditional dried blood spot (DBS) cards, the VAMS technology delivers consistently high-quality blood samples that can be processed efficiently, even when using high throughput processing for large quantities of samples. Many lab scientists who use Mitra microsampling with VAMS have published papers testifying to the improvements they have seen over previous methods.
Mitra Has Lab Applications Now and Later, Post-Coronavirus
Today Mitra with VAMS technology is being utilized more widely as labs recognize the need to expand their services by offering remote sample collection and processing to meet the demands of COVID-19 studies. Labs that can provide at-home blood collection kits and reliable serology testing for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies will be in greater demand as governments and communities gear up for future seasonal spikes in COVID-19 cases. Lab directors can anticipate that more healthcare organizations and public health officials will want to partner with laboratories that can deploy home testing kits and are set up to analyze large quantities of remote blood samples.
No Phlebotomist Needed, No Extra Work for Labs and Clinics
Phlebotomy is still the most-used blood-draw process among medical practices, hospitals and clinics. However, there are many disadvantages to traditional venipuncture. For starters, you need to employ phlebotomists for traditional blood draws. Patients who have chronic conditions or are taking therapeutic drugs as part of their care plan must make frequent hospital or clinic trips for routine blood draws and monitoring. This can be frustrating and time-consuming for patients. During a viral pandemic, these visits can also pose a risk of viral exposure for both healthcare staff and patients. The potential risk requires extra work for labs and other health facilities that must follow protocols to avoid contamination. Labs that can process remotely collected blood samples will help save extra work, time and costs.
Labs Can Improve the Patient Journey with Mitra Microsampling
Patients who receive Mitra Blood Collection Kits can use a simple finger-stick method with a lancet at home to collect small drops of blood on the Mitra device. At-home blood collection using the finger-stick method has advantages for patients. In addition to allowing them to remain safely at home, blood collection with a finger-stick method is a minimally invasive alternative to painful venipuncture blood draws in the clinic. Most patients, especially children, feel stressed and anxious about visiting the lab or clinic for a blood draw. With at-home blood collection kits, patients avoid the risks, stress, discomfort and inconvenience of a clinic or lab visit. Self-managed blood collection at home may involve the help of a family member, but no special training is needed.
Stable Blood Samples With No Need for Cold Shipping or Storage
Samples collected at home using Mitra microsamplers are of high quality, and published studies show that the blood samples remain stable through shipping or mailing. Labs don't have to worry about cold-chain shipping. Once a Mitra sample arrives in the lab, it delivers a dried blood sample suitable for lab analysis. The Mitra with VAMS technology has been shown in study after study to consistently deliver quality samples and good data, making it a reliable alternative to the plasma gold standard for many analytes.
Labs That Process Remote Samples Facilitate Telemedicine
Labs that offer remote blood collection services will help move telemedicine and patient-centered care forward in a post-coronavirus world. Labs and care facilities that offer at-home blood collection are expected to become more popular in the coming months. When a full blood panel is needed, some facilities may also offer home health visits from a phlebotomist to perform a venipuncture blood draw. However, when this is not required, patient-managed remote blood collection will enable virtual care consults by phone, video and email. People are now learning that with Mitra devices, just few drops of blood are enough to provide care providers with a wealth of information. Labs working in collaboration with care providers can perform rapid testing and deliver timely lab results. Embracing the telehealth trend through remote specimen processing will help more labs stay ahead of the curve as we fight to "level the curve."