COVID-19 and an increased public understanding of diagnostics.
We have noticed during walks that the majority of conversations that we overhear are related to the pandemic. What is particularly striking is the use of words that pre-pandemic were part of our scientific jargon but not used previously as household terms. These include PCR test, antigen test, asymptomatic, viral load, transmissibility, variants, and mutations. The term PCR test does not imply that most people know how this works, or that there is a need to reverse transcribe the RNA to DNA as a first step…. I am not saying that using a word in a sentence means that there is necessarily a deep understanding of what it means, but the key though is that there is definitely a groundswell of public interest and knowledge of diagnostic terminology.
I think that this represents a profound opportunity for all of us working in diagnostics. Prior to the pandemic, research companies globally were developing home diagnostic tests in an environment that was distinctly hostile to their commercialization. I have been involved in debates at conferences with clinicians that were adamant that home testing was a dangerous and ridiculous concept. They argued that only medical professionals could generate health related data and interpret it. This prevailing opinion carried weight with regulators. Now, after the pandemic, we have a community of end-users that see how diagnostic testing can be done in the privacy of your own home with the ability to obtain results in less than 30 minutes
I am always struck by the comparison between the information known about me as a consumer versus the knowledge of health. As long as knowledge of your health is governed by gate-keepers who decide who gets what tests and when, this gap in data will continue. We need a democratization or maybe just anarchy such that anyone can access any information about their health, themselves, whenever they want it. We need to move health care from something that you depend on a system to provide for you with, to readily accessible knowledge enabling everyone to take control of their own health status. Fully open access to home based diagnostics is the necessary step to move the focus of health care from the treatment of diseases to an individual driven focus on the maintenance of wellness.
I hope that one footprint that this pandemic has left on the world is increased understanding and increased demand for home based diagnostics and personal control over your own health assessment. At NeoVentures we will continue to passionately support the development of reliable home based diagnosis for all medical states, including wellness.
Credit: Photo by Annie Spratt