At-home blood collection test kits are a quick and efficient way for users to get objective data about their health without the hassle of traditional doctor’s visits for blood tests. We’ve put together this guide for your reference, as well as our own experience trying the different at home methods.
At-home blood collection test kits are a quick and efficient way for users to get objective data about their health without the hassle of traditional doctor’s visits for blood tests. The rise in at home testing has made it easy for digital health companies to incorporate objective clinical data to their services, and Vital has made that process simple and possible. To help you understand the differences between popular blood draw devices, we’ve put together this guide for your reference, as well as our own experience trying the different at home methods.
What are the types of blood collection methods?
Below we highlight the most common types of blood collection methods:
1. Finger Prick Collection Kits
Finger prick tests are most commonly known from glucose testing in diabetics, but kits now use the same collection method with different sample containers such as small tubes and dried blood spot cards to measure many other biomarkers.
The test works by placing a small, sterile lancet against the tip of a finger which deploys a hidden needle that punctures the fingertip. The motion is quick and safe, and the needle retreats into the lancet once it has pierced the skin. When blood starts to flow from the finger, the user must collect the blood into a small tube, place a drop on a test strip, or drip spots of blood on a collection card as seen below.
Simple: A lot of people are already familiar with the finger stick method, and the process is simple to follow, making it easy for most users.
Quick results: Many finger prick tests deliver speedy results, with turn around days as short as 2 days.
Availability: Users in remote geographies can benefit from the convenience of mail-in kits.
Potential for error: Finger prick tests can be a little painful if performed incorrectly. Furthermore, mistakes can result in faulty or incomplete samples.
Squeamish users may struggle to collect enough blood: While some finger prick tests require a small drop of blood, others require users to “milk” several drops from their fingers. This action may prove challenging for people who feel faint or squeamish around blood.
2. Tasso and Tap II Collection Kits:
Tasso is a medical device placed on the arm for blood collection.
A kit containing the device and all the other collection equipment is sent to the user along with access to an instructional video. The device is stamped onto the upper arm, deploying a lancet to puncture the site, and the blood is then collected into the connected tube via the gentle vacuum of the device. The collection tube is then sent back to a lab for processing within 24 hours.
Tasso currently has 3 different at-home blood draw products:
Tasso+: This single-use device collects whole samples of liquid blood for a range of downstream applications. Users must place the Tasso+ lancet on their upper arm and press a button to start suctioning blood from their capillaries.
Tasso-M20: The Tasso-M20 allows users to collect dried blood samples. The device is calibrated to collect the precise volumes necessary, working in the same way as the Tasso+. Users simply need to stick the device to their upper arm, press a red button, and wait for five minutes until they’ve collected enough blood.
Tasso-SST: The Tasso-SST allows researchers to collect whole liquid blood samples without anticoagulation, meaning they can immediately separate the blood serum to conduct certain clinical tests. Right now, this device is only approved for investigational use.
TAP II is another upper arm blood collection device by YourBio Health. Like Tasso’s devices, the device collects blood from capillaries using microneedles even thinner than eyelashes.
The device is easy to use and works much in the same way as Tasso’s product. Users will attach the device to their upper arm, and wait a few minutes for the blood to collect in a tube, and send the sample back to lab for processing. TAP II devices are not yet approved by the FDA.
Excellent user experience: Testing with the Tasso and TAP II devices is painless and can be a quick user experience.
Better for squeamish users: These devices do all the mechanical work, so users don’t have to “milk” blood from their fingers – a benefit for those who don’t appreciate the sight of blood.
The device can feel intimidating: Many users who use Tasso and TAP II devices for the first time intimidated by the device and could potentially lead to faulty application and collection.
Potential for incorrect sampling: If a user incorrectly applies a Tasso or TAP II device to their upper arm, they may spill or compromise the sample. In this situation, the user will require another device, which can be expensive.
Short mailing timeframes: Users must mail their samples to the lab immediately after using a Tasso or TAP II device. If they fail to do so, the sample could be rejected at the lab and the user would have to retest.
Phlebotomy is the most commonly known blood collection method. This is done at a lab or doctor’s office by a nurse or phlebotomist through a needle draw. This type of collection requires a doctor’s order, an appointment at a lab and an in person collection to complete.
Reduced chance of void samples: Having a professional collect the sample will reduce the chances of error in collection and removes the mental tax of users collecting their own blood.
Applicable to a broader range of tests: Phlebotomy can be used for a wider range of types of biomarkers or tests that require more blood volume than an at home test.
Time-consuming for users: Users requiring phlebotomy must make and attend an appointment – potentially very time-consuming if they live in remote locations.
Discomfort: Venous blood draws require a larger needle, therefore potentially being more painful for the user:
Results can take a while: Labs can take a while to return results received from phlebotomists.
🚀 Vital’s Experience
We tried out the three at home blood collection methods- finger prick, Tasso, and Tap II to see which we found easiest to use, least painful, and best experience overall. Check out our reviews, along with our recommendation for which type test to pick!
🩸 Finger Prick
😁 Easiest part: Following instructions to make finger dots on the card.
😩 Hardest Part: Making sure to prick finger in the right spot to get the right amount of blood.
💉 Pain level: 2 out of 5
🧐 Overall experience: Finger prick collection was simple and straightforward, but could be difficult to collect enough blood if finger prick was done incorrectly. Wouldn’t mind doing again.
🚀 Vital’s recommendation: Finger prick blood test kits are the most cost effective, and popular option for at home testing. Finger prick test kits are affordable, are accepted by a very wide lab network, and offers an extensive testing menu. The costs of a lab panel are typically much less than both the Tasso device and phlebotomy draws, especially for users wanting to pay out of pocket. Users find this method really easy to follow, especially when provided with clear, video instructions on how to collect their sample.
After a user collects their sample, they typically have 1-2 weeks before they have to mail the sample and lab turnaround for results are as short as 2 days. Vital currently has a 99.2% success rate for 4 to 5 blood spot card sample collection and 96% sample success rate with ADX card collection, which requires a larger sample. Most of our client’s typically start out with finger prick test kits before exploring the other options!
😁 Easiest part: The blood collection! Once you have the device on your arm it’s cool to see the blood being collected with no effort.
😩 Hardest Part: Making sure to put the device on correctly and mixing the sample correctly after taking off the tube. Had to watch the instruction video a couple of times to make sure it was done correctly.
💉 Pain level: 1.5 out of 5
🧐 Overall experience: Really pleasant experience overall, but a bit intimidated by the device at first. Would definitely do again.
🚀 Vital's recommendation: Tasso device at home kits deliver a better user experience than finger prick tests, however the Tasso is much more expensive to include in test kits, and the higher incidence of user error (~6-7%) and device failure could lead to expensive replacement kits and repeat testing. The cost to add a Tasso device to a kit is $25-35 more than the typical finger prick test kit. Tasso kits are a great option for companies looking for a more high-end user experience option and when given the option, cost aside, users typically prefer Tasso over the finger prick kit. The 24 hour mailing window can also be difficult for some users to meet, also leading to potential rejected samples. We have found that very clear and detailed instructions can help alleviate these issues and lead to a great user experience.
The network of labs that have validated testing using Tasso samples is also smaller than those accepting finger prick samples, which can be limit the amount of biomarkers that can be tested and a higher lab processing fee. Vital is currently expanding their Tasso lab network to help make this an affordable option for all users.
😁 Easiest Part: Putting on the device and similar to the Tasso, the blood collection! No effort in collecting the sample.
😩 Hardest Part: Sample took longer to collect in the tube than with the Tasso, which made it unclear it was enough or okay to leave on long enough.
💉 Pain level: 1 out of 5
🧐 Overall experience: Pleasant experience overall, but Tasso collection seemed quicker, giving more confidence that it was done correctly. Wouldn't mind doing again.
🚀 Vital's Recommendation: While the experience using the Tap II device was comparable to that of the Tasso, the Tap II device is not currently FDA approved, making its use very limited. Vital is excited to include the TAP II in future test kits!
There are many blood draw options available for testing users for a range of biomarkers. At-home tests are becoming increasingly popular among users and digital health companies, and using Vital makes access to testing simpler and accessible to everyone.
🚀 Interested in testing? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about our test kits and lab testing API.