NHS lets people take their own blood at home with new kit

Monitor My Health is a new paid-for venture from the NHS that allows patients to take blood at their convenience, send it to a lab for testing, then keep track of their health via an online profile.

The NHS has launched a home blood testing service that allows “time-poor” patients to take their own blood then send it to a laboratory to test for diabetes, cholesterol levels, heart health and more.

Monitor My Health is a commercial venture and sees patients pay to take their own blood at a time convenient to them, then post it back to a medical laboratory, and receive results digitally within 48 hours. All profits made go back into the NHS.

It has been spearheaded by the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, which in-turn commissioned design studio Howoco to create the name, branding, packaging, promotional materials and website for Monitor My Health.

Patients take their own blood

Patients visit the Monitor My Health website, and choose one of six tests — diabetes, cholesterol, thyroid function, vitamin D, heart health or a full screening — at prices ranging from £24-47.

A kit is sent to the person, who collects their own blood at home via a pin prick test, which they then return to the Exeter Clinical Laboratory by post with a prepaid package.

Test results are returned to patients within 48 hours via their personal dashboard on the Monitor My Health website.

Advice is also then offered to patients based on their results, ranging from no action needed, to lifestyle change suggestions for deficiencies, to suggestions to see a general practitioner (GP).

Make money for NHS and reduce burden on GPs

The kits are aimed at “time-poor” people over the age of 16, who want to “take control of their own healthcare”, says Steve Howell, creative director at Howoco. The idea is for an individual to repeat tests regularly, then compare their results over time on their online health dashboard.

Dr Timothy McDonald, consultant clinical scientist at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, who led on the project, says: “Monitor My Health is about using testing equipment and scientists in the best, most efficient way to offer patients a safe way to monitor their health, while also putting money back into the NHS.”

As well as a commercial venture, the project aims to increase the efficiency of the Exeter Clinical Laboratory, which is currently required to be manned 24 hours a day but does not conduct tests in all these hours. Another hope is to reduce the burden on GPs, by bringing a small part of the services they offer into patients’ homes.

Increase safety of home blood testing

As well as this, the venture aims to help increase the safety of the online blood testing market, says Howell, through a legitimate NHS option that looks to provide people with both convenience and regulated lab testing.

“The biggest criticism of the term ‘home testing’ is that a person could misinterpret their results, causing either unnecessary worry or lack of action,” he says. “It’s important to remember that the only thing that happens at home with Monitor My Health is the blood ‘taking’.

“All the tests are done in an NHS lab,” he adds. “It’s the same standard you would get if your GP were to take a blood test and send it off to a lab.”

Monitor My Health also aims to help early detection of health conditions and focus on prevention rather than treatment of diseases, which fits in with the NHS’ Long Term Plan.

Designed to be “universal”

Howell says the graphic design of the physical product and digital version of Monitor My Health aim to be “universal, like the NHS”, rather than targeted at particular age demographics.

He says that colours “associated with healthcare and the NHS”, blue and white, have been incorporated, alongside a “restrained, classic sans-serif” typeface, and a fingerprint graphic to represent the idea of the pin-prick test, which is applied to a person’s finger, and personal identity. The overall look aims to convey “reassurance and convenience”, he says, and encourage regular testing.

The name was chosen to be “descriptive” and for the same reason, the logo is typographic rather than symbol-led, featuring Monitor My Health set in an all-caps, sans-serif type. The name also aims to be flexible, Howell adds, to enable the venture to expand into other services in future beyond blood tests.

Monitor My Health has now launched.

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Comments
  • Elizabeth Devon June 9, 2019 at 9:25 am

    What a great idea. I always feel a little bit guilty when I go to see my doctor and ask for blood tests but often if I am feeling low I would like to be reassured that there is nothing to worry about. I am sure I am not the only hypochondriac out there. Great initiative for the NHS to launch a regulated service the same as if I went to my GP. Well done NHS a step in the right direction.

  • Middleagedman June 9, 2019 at 9:37 am

    Why did it take so long for the NHS to launch a regulated service. I tried one of the other Mickey Mouse services about 1 year ago and thought I had high cholesterol. Turns out I was just misinterpreting the results. I will give this a try and expect better from my NHS.

  • Jared June 10, 2019 at 11:32 am

    While this is a great, convenient idea that reduces pressure on the NHS, I feel like the simple addition of the actual NHS logo somewhere on the packaging, rather than a nod through colours and a “restrained, classic sans-serif” typeface, would make people a lot happier about taking their own blood sample and sending it off…

  • George June 10, 2019 at 11:17 pm

    I agree with Jared about the packaging. A plain box with the NHS logo and contents set in Frutiger would have sufficed if not warrant more trust in my opinion.

    Also, I think it would be much better if the results were integrated within the recently released NHS app (and a web version for those without a smartphone/tablet) rather than having yet another siloed brand/system.

  • FutureDoctor June 15, 2019 at 12:16 pm

    This opens the flood-gates to a privatised NHS. Let’s start by normalising it among younger generations, and surely enough in a few decades healthcare will no longer be free at the point of care and the NHS will cease to exist. Another separate point – a GP will request an investigation (i.e. blood test, thyroid function test etc.) if there is a clinical indication to do so. Let’s not overly medicalise a population with useless tests if they don’t need it.

    Sure, I agree that home-testing can be convenient – but the thought of privately paying for whichever tests an individual likes isn’t objective. Let’s give those patients who actually need the tests the option to ‘self-test’ and don’t charge them for it – after all, they are reducing NHS overheads, saving the need for a healthcare professional to do it in a clinic.

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