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Are At Home Colon Cancer Tests Confidential?

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    Are At Home Colon Cancer Tests Confidential?

    One of the most common types of cancer in the United States is colon cancer and screening for colon cancer is one of the best ways to catch it before it dangerously spreads. Despite its benefits, many people will avoid a screening because of fear and embarrassment associated with a colonoscopy, the preferred method for screening.

    At home colon cancer screening tests are typically mailed back to a lab to be analyzed in preaddressed packaging that protects the identity of the patient. Once the samples are analyzed, the results are typically returned to the patient or sent to the patient’s physicians.

    Physicians who understand that their patients may not follow through with a screening will often advise them to get an at home colon cancer test. These screening tests are performed at home and are typically mailed back to a lab to be analyzed in preaddressed packaging that protects the identity of the patient. Once the samples are analyzed, the results are typically returned to the patient or sent to the patient’s physicians.

    You can discuss your results with your physician in person or call provider to clarify questions.

    Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

    HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) laws should protect the identity and results of those who take an at home test and the at home colon cancer test providers should abide by these rules. HIPAA laws compel those who have access to a patient’s personal  and health information to protect a person’s identity. This is known as protected health information and includes the following:

    • Names or part of names
    • Geographical identifiers
    • Phone number details
    • Details of email addresses
    • Medical record numbers
    • Account details
    • Social security details
    • Face or comparable photographic images
    • Health data (including results)
    • Medical records
    • Personal health information

    What this means to you as a patient is that the company that sells the at home colon cancer test and the laboratory who analyses your sample and sends out the results should never sell nor disclose your personal identifiers or health information to a third party. 

    Are the Tests Actually Confidential?

    At home colon cancer screening providers will often attest that they keep your personal data secure, use security measures to keep your information confidential, and dispose of your stool sample after it is analysed. Each provider may have a different policy or reputation. The following providers attest that their screening tests protect your data and comply with HIPAA standards. 

    Everlywell

    Everlywell is a research lab that sells an at home colon cancer screening test to the general public. Everylywell assures the following to their customers:

    • Uses a HIPAA compliant platform 
    • Stores data using industry standard encryption methods
    • Does not store credit card information in any database
    • Uses latest technology and latest security patch levels

    According to the company, Everlywell has been verified by an independent third party as “highly-compliant” according to HIPAA/HITECH security standards.

    LetsGetChecked

    The company assures their customers that they are fully committed to the protection of personal data and privacy. The test itself is confidential and the user is the only person who can access the results. This means that you will need to show your results to your doctor as they are unable to access the data. Keep in mind that the company does collect your personal information and you will need to request that this data be removed from the site. Some customers have complained that LetsGetChecked will sell their personal data. 

    Cologuard

    Exact Sciences has a complex Privacy Policy and is required by HIPAA to protect the health information, including the results of a patient’s test. HIPAA rights require Cologuard to protect your health information. Further, Cologuard only shares information with the ordering provider outside our lab and does not share any data with third parties. 

    What Do the Boxes Look Like and How You Receive Your Results

    Most prescription and non-prescription at home colon cancer tests are mailed directly to your home. These tests typically arrive in a box that contains a kit that includes instructions on how to complete and mail in the test. Most colon cancer tests that are taken at home will either allow you to download your results through their website or will mail the results directly to your physician. Some at home colon cancer stool tests are available over the counter and you can get your results almost immediately in the comfort of your own home.

    If you are confused about how you will get your results, contact your healthcare provider to help clarify any confusion you may have. Some at home test providers have a chat and phone option for you to contact customer service for any questions or concerns you may have. 

    What do the boxes look like?

    Each colon cancer at home test has a different form of packaging depending on the provider. The boxes generally are plain and discrete. The boxes will have the company’s logo printed on the box. However, the envelope you return your samples in are typically plain with no logo showing. 

    How do I get my results?

    Each at home colon cancer test provider will deliver results in a different way. Certain providers will mail the result directly to your physician. Others will have you log on to your dashboard after registering and allow you to download your results to print out for your physician. The over-the-counter tests will deliver results instantly or in a few minutes according to the directions. These tests have instant results. For example, the EZ Detect at home stool test involves paper that changes color when it detects blood in the stool. If you are confused about how you will get your results, contact your healthcare provider to help clarify any confusion you may have. Also, at home test providers such as Cologuard and Everlywell have a chat and phone option for you to contact customer service for any questions or concerns you may have. 

    References

    Ancrum, S. (2020, August 10). Everylywell review: Pros, cons, and how it works. Retrieved from Farr Institute: https://www.farrinstitute.org/everlywell-review/

    Cologuard Writing Staff. (2021, June 21). Terms and conditions. Retrieved from Cologuard: https://www.cologuard.com/terms

    Cooper, L. (2016, December 01). At-home colon cancer tests: What you need to know. Retrieved from Consumer Reports: https://www.consumerreports.org/colonoscopy/at-home-colon-cancer-tests/

    Gastro Center of New Jersey Writing Staff. (2021). At-home colon cancer screening tests: What you need to know. Retrieved from Gastrocenternj: https://gastrocenternj.com/at-home-colon-cancer-screening-tests/

    HIPAA Guide Writing Staff. (2021). HIPAA for dummies. Retrieved from Hippaguide: https://www.hipaaguide.net/hipaa-for-dummies

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