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Some urgent care operators are employing telemedicine to help identify patients who need to be tested or who need treatment for COVID-19 vs those who don’t—the idea being to keep people at home and out of healthcare facilities for as long as possible, if they need to go anywhere at all. ZOOM+Care is going one step further toward that goal by piloting a saliva-based, self-sample test that patients can do for themselves at home. The company invited Seattle residents 18 years of age or older, and who are currently experiencing fever and cough or fever and shortness of breath, to participate. The trial will compare provider-sampled nasopharyngeal tests with patient-obtained oropharyngeal and salivary samples. Candidates who opt out of the pilot will still receive COVID-19 testing per FDA guidelines and current standards of care. UnitedHealth is also trying to get more patients involved in self-testing, albeit with a different approach. The company is distributing a patient-administered test to 46,000 OptumCare physicians. While the patient would still be in the presence of a healthcare provider, in a healthcare setting, that provider could be a safe distance from the patient being tested, thereby lowering the risk of patient-to-provider transmission of COVID-19.

If Patients Can Test Themselves for COVID-19, Risk of Transmission Should Decrease