UW Medicine study: Home blood collection device could drastically improve quality of telemedicine

A study conducted by staff at the UW Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology revealed that a new device, called the Tasso-SST blood sampling kit, was successful in collecting blood samples for measuring antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. 

 

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Tasso, Inc., a Seattle biotech firm, funded the study. The device, manufactured by Tasso, Inc., is entirely patient-administered and can be used by patients at home. The patient pushes a button on the device, which releases a small lancet that pierces the skin; then, a vacuum draws the blood from the capillary blood vessels located just beneath the skin. This blood flows into a collection tube, which the patient caps and then sends to the lab for analysis.

In the study, the participants’ blood was collected using a few different methods in order to evaluate how well the device would do compared to the standard method of collecting blood. Patients drew blood with the device on their own and then drew blood with the device under the supervision of a study staff member. These samples were then compared to a venous blood sample drawn by a phlebotomist using the standard technique.

Researchers reported that they found no significant differences between the samples collected by the device and the phlebotomist.

The success of this test indicates that the device could be used for other tests that would ordinarily require a visit to a lab or clinic where a phlebotomist would take the blood sample directly from a vein. The study published to digital health journal PLOS ONE states that the device could aid in surveilling COVID-19 immunity and infections across widespread areas.

“The current global pandemic has led to restricted movement and gathering of people to mitigate the spread of viral infection. In this setting, telemedicine has emerged as an increasingly common alternative to in-person medical visits; access to a self-collection device for blood monitoring may be a useful adjunct…Moreover, many other analytes, including other antibodies and small molecules, could be assayed using blood samples collected with this device.”

However, researchers of the study emphasize that further testing is necessary to verify the device’s accuracy and reliability for other kinds of tests, in order for the device to be used in routine care. 

Dr. Andrew N. Hoofnagle, the study’s director and professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, commented on the device’s potential for the future of telehealth. 

On video, by talking to and seeing a patient we can often tell if they’re doing OK, but sometimes we need a blood sample to really know what’s going on. Having the patient collect a blood sample on their own isn’t going to replace a visit to the doctor, but could help improve remote care.”