If you've visited a doctor’s office or clinic for a blood test, you know that it's not always a pleasent experience. As part of a physical or as a follow-up to a specific diagnosis and treatment, the needle appears, followed by a search for a vein. After a few uncomfortable seconds, a vial of your blood is removed, and you head home to await the results and sip cranberry juice.
Preparation, travel, and the inevitable wait for blood draws can be time consuming.
Many medical decisions result from blood testing. For those living in remote areas and far from medical facilities, the process can consume hours and days. In situations where a condition must be monitored continually, the process becomes extremely bothersome, though no less necessary.
Not every doctor’s office is equipped to analyze blood samples. In some remote areas of the world, blood samples must be shipped or couriered to a distant location. Whole blood must be captured in a sterile container and immediately refrigerated at a constant temperature below 45°F or 8° C and used within seven days. Blood shipments are labeled as a hazardous material and must be transported with dry ice to maintain the required low temperature. The process is cumbersome and expensive and requires special packaging and handling procedures. Many times samples arrive but are not analyzable because of temperature abuse or lapsed time.
There are now two excellent options for remote, self-drawn blood sampling. The first, dried blood spotting (DBS), is simply a fingerstick sample placed on a specially treated card that, once dried, is inserted into a protective envelope and mailed to the clinic or other destination without any special handling.
A newer option, microsampling or VAMS™ (Volumetric Absorptive Microsampling), also requires only a fingerstick-size sample.
The method uses a specially designed Mitra® microsampling device that draws only a tiny, fixed quantity of blood that can be mailed or carried to the lab site for analysis without refrigeration or special handling. Anyone can use the device anywhere with minimal training.
Both alternatives are smart solutions for remote sampling. These options are ideal for people requiring frequent testing to measure ongoing progress. Also, the less invasive methods can be useful options in areas where medical and testing facilities are simply not near enough for regular visits.