You'll Soon Be Able to Get Your STD Results In Less Than 2 Hours
Photo: jarun011 // Shutterstock
Photo: jarun011 / Shutterstock
You can get a strep test back in 10 minutes. You can get pregnancy test results in three minutes. But STD tests? Prepare to wait at least a few days—if not weeks—for your results.
In a time when you can livestream someone’s cat playing the piano from across the world at the tap of a touch-screen button, waiting weeks for health test results seems downright archaic.
“A lot of health care looks and feels like Windows ’95,” says Ramin Bastani, chief executive officer of Healthvana, an app that allows real-time communication between patients and health care providers.
Healthvana is trying to change that agonizing wait. They’ve teamed up with Cepheid, a health diagnostics company, and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) to finally make same-day STD testing and results a thing.
How it works: Cepheid just launched a 90-minute test for chlamydia and gonorrhea that will soon be available at AHF clinics (which do free STD testing!) all over the United States. (They’d previously launched it in the U.K. and plan to make it available at the first U.S. clinic sometime in the next 30 days, then will slowly roll out across their other locations in the next year or two.) And here’s where Healthvana comes in: Instead of adding you to a long list of patients who need to be called with test results (or being given the supremely unsettling “no news is good news” line), you’ll get a notification on your phone with your test results (whether positive or negative) as soon as they’re available. And since you’re not getting your results over the phone from a doctor or nurse, Healthvana also provides related information and next steps related to your diagnosis (or lack thereof)—whether that’s finding treatment, scheduling another appointment, or simply giving you straightforward information about whatever you may have.
“We believe patients should get access to their results in real time, every time, and not just in a PDF where you don’t know what anything is and you have to Google it ,” says Bastani. “It should be in layman’s terms, tell you what the hell it means, and what you should do next.”
This is huge, because while Cepheid created this super-quick test and decreased the amount of time it took for the lab to process the results, that didn’t mean patients would be seeing results much faster. It’s what Bastani calls the “last mile issue.” You could still be waiting days for your results while they’re tied up in your doctor’s office. “One clinic we work with reduced their calls by 90 percent, which means they can actually spend more time focusing on the patient,” he says.
Faster results and faster communication mean faster treatment. And that means fewer people walking around with the potential to spread STDs—especially relevant right now, since STD rates are at an all-time high, and both chlamydia and gonorrhea are on their way to becoming antibiotic-resistant “superbugs.”
“We think this can really help because patients will find out faster, and it’ll cut down on the amount of time they could be spreading it to other people,” says Bastani.
The downside: You can only take advantage of Healthvana’s modern technology if your health care provider (like an AHF clinic) uses it. And that super-speedy chlamydia and gonorrhea test, of course, is only one of many health tests we wish could be turned around that fast. But while the medical world works on creating faster lab tests, the least we can do is ditch the doctor phone tag and start micromanaging our health from our smartphones—the way we can oversee pretty much everything else in our lives.