My Experience With My First At Home Blood Test From Everywell

everywell test kit for Vitamin D, it is a white box with green sides and the everywell logo

This post contains a referral link but the post itself is not affiliated with nor sponsored by Everywell in any way.

With the announcement two weeks ago that my hospital system would no longer be taking any preventative measures against the spread of viruses and the removal of the mask mandate, I decided to start my own journey into the world of online healthcare and researching what kind of treatments, testing, and primary care options may be available to me.

I am personally in a position where I have the financial means to not attend in person visits and to explore health options that are not covered by insurance.

This year I actually don’t have many health care visits lined up as we’re in more of a maintenance mode with all of my health conditions.

My only appointment was scheduled with my Primary Care Doctor for June where I’d also get my annual bloodwork. However, I was intending to find a new PCP as the one I have is woefully insufficient for my needs. One area of strife comes with the test I ended up ordering: I am supposed to be monitoring my Vitamin D levels every few months.

This time last year, my old PCP who left the practice suggested I begin taking between 4000 and 5000 IU of Vitamin D. This comes after years of discussion with my OBGYN and monitoring my bone density levels after discontinuing the Depo-Provera shot. My bone density levels in 2020 were pretty low for someone in my age group, a risk that can happen with Depo-Provera. After a year off of the shot, we conducted another bone density scan which showed no improvement.

By spring of 2022, I requested a Vitamin D levels check to see where things were, as my own research had suggested some of my other medications may be decreasing my body’s ability to absorb Vitamin D and in turn slowing the improvement of my bone density despite consistent supplementation with Calcium + Vitamin D.

My levels came in on the low level of the spectrum, and that’s when we decided to increase supplementation to what was considered a “treatment” dose. With this higher dose however, my doctor was very specific in indicating I’d need to monitor my bloodwork.

And then he left.

My new doctor who took over for him, even with clear direction from me and my medical notes to monitor this, never did. And with all of my own health problems and multiple new doctors to manage last summer, I wasn’t able to extend myself to do my primary care physicians job for her. So tests were never ordered.

With the dropping of precautions, I decided to cancel my June appointment with this doctor along with the bloodwork because it is frankly an unnecessary thing. She isn’t monitoring the one area I need monitored, I certainly don’t need an in person appointment for her to ask how I’m doing and listen to my breathing.

My first online care choice: Getting My Vitamin D Levels Checked

I researched a few options online for testing my Vitamin D levels and Everywell has a simple test for $49. There were some other companies with less expensive tests, but less information about the validity of the companies, along with other companies that are more expensive. This felt like an acceptable price point for me.

Everywell also has a Vitamin D + Inflammation test for $99 but I didn’t think I needed the extra test.

One thing that I like immediately about Everywell is that tests ship free and are FSA/HSA eligible. I don’t have a health savings account of any kind, but for those that do this is good to know.

Everywell also offers access to medical professionals virtually should you want to discuss your results, these visits are covered by many insurance plans but without insurance you can pay with cash for $59 – and it is also FSA/HSA eligible.

I ordered my test late on Monday, April 17th and received it in the mail that Friday. I immediately received confirmation of my order and awoke to additional information about the test. They emailed some useful guides and videos to watch with instructions for performing the test and some tips to make it go smoothly.

I decided to wait until Monday to do the test so I could get it out in the mail at the beginning of the week.

The Test: What It Contained and What to Expect

First, you’ll open your kit and are prompted to register your test. You do NOT want to skip this step.

This can be done easily online or through the app.

kit registration in the app has instructions for scanning the QR code that came with your kit and an option to input in manually

I found this portion to be relatively straight forward. There’s a QR code on the box and on the inside with the brochure asking you to register your kit.

You’ll want to create an account with Everywell to maintain access to your results.

In the app, there’s a section to “register your kit” once you’ve logged in. This opens a camera which scans the QR code. If you have difficulty there is also an option to enter the ID manually.

Once my test kit was scanned in, I received additional email confirmation that my kit’s registration was successful.

I was then prompted to either take the sample or set a reminder that would notify me at a designated time I wanted to perform the test.

I set my reminder for Monday morning and was sent a nice notification from the app to collect my sample. I wasn’t feeling too great so I decided to do it on Tuesday instead.

Arranged on my counter in my bathroom is the components of the test kit. The green box has notes of encouragement, the instructions manual is clear and there are finger pokers, alcohol swaps, and gauze along with the kit for putting blood samples

The kit was really nicely put together with a clear instruction card on how to prepare my space along with what each component was. I also think it’s cute that the box says “you’ve got this” considering I’ve never pricked my own finger before. This whole process was very affirmative.

They provided two finger pricks.

After warming my hands with hot water, I wiped off my finger with the provided alcohol wipe and pricked my middle finger to begin the process. You’re supposed to wipe the first drop with gauze and then allow the blood to drip onto the test card.

I did not have an easy time with this process and spent a lot of time massaging my finger to get blood to flow. You need to fill 5 circles with blood.

I ended up using the second finger prick to do the middle finger on my other hand, which was mildly more successful.

You are supposed to let the blood drip onto the card, not tap the blood to the card and I will admit I messed this up in the first two circles.

There’s a helpful guide at the top of the instruction card that shows just how much blood is needed within the circles to get a good result. Once you have finished this process you’ll want to clean up your hands, apply a band aid – unless you’re like me and just had no more blood to give, then just wash your hands.

At this point you’ll want to return to the app in your phone and open your test. There’s a place to take a photo of your collection card which will give you approval that you’ve done it right and document the card to ensure the same one is being tested at the lab. You’ll want to take this picture in a bright space with the lights on, my first picture didn’t work and kept returning a sad black and white image of my card, with the lights on it created a nice digital picture with bright red blood spots.

After letting this dry for 30 minutes you can package it up in the provided hazard bag, then place it in the mailer with the pre-printed shipping label and pop it in the mailbox.

What Would I Have Done Differently?

In hindsight, I should’ve waited until later in the day. I did the test at about 11 AM, only having been up since 9 AM and I surely wasn’t as hydrated as I could’ve been. I think this was a factor in it being difficult to get the blood to drip and to not clot rather immediately.

I also would not have chosen the pads of my both my middle fingers! The way this finger prick mechanism works is the needle is hidden down and you have to press it and it pricks you with a bit of a forceful spring mechanism. This bruised the tips of both of my fingers. This was Tuesday, it is Saturday, they are still bruised.

I have learned just how much the pad of my middle fingers comes in contact with all kinds of things! The switch on top of my stove when I turn the light off, my computer while typing or using the touch screen, my morning nasal spray bottle when I push down… so many things I never would have thought of! With this in mind, I’m glad I didn’t use my index finger. But perhaps in the future I’ll test out my ring finger and perhaps choose a time where I don’t have long fake fingernails on so I can prick the actual tip of my finger rather than the pad.

This is of course a very minor notation, but I never would have known and the first two days had quite a few reactive “OW’s” that made me feel a little foolish.

Waiting For Results and Getting Results

In the app by Tuesday evening it had updated to reflect my package had scanned and was now in transit. I find this to be a nice feature instead of having to manually enter tracking info for updates.

By Thursday evening my sample had arrived and the app updated to show it being processed. I also received an email that my sample was being processed.

By Saturday morning I had both another email and notification that my results were in and I could access them within the app. I think this is a nice point of security and privacy to mention that the email didn’t reveal any of my personal information or the results, so I feel like the privacy I would get with normal healthcare is equitable to what Everywell is providing.

The results were very easy to access. I navigated to the Completed Tests tab and opened my results which immediately shared they were normal and gave links to the Testing Lab that processed it. Below were my results:

Everywell results for Vitamin D showing a colorful range and my result at 83.6 ng/mL

This is a very easy to read result panel and my Vitamin D levels have improved tremendously from last year. These were last years results for reference:

Vitamin D results from my medical office showing 38 ng/ml on June 30th 2022 and 33 ng/mL on march 18th 2022

Within this results page I was able to get more information than just my results. Immediately with the results is a breakdown which gives an in depth explanation of what Vitamin D actually does along with links to more resources. I am also prompted to book a telehealth appointment to discuss the results and am given the option to save my results as a PDF which allows me to share them easily with my existing care team.

The app then shares some lifestyle information specific to improving Vitamin D levels, your results may be in the normal range (as my results from a year prior were on the lowest end) and you may want to improve them. Some of the tips include getting more sunlight, looking at your diet, and taking a Vitamin D supplement all with sections to “read more” with slightly more specific advice.

I think this might be the nicest part of the whole experience. You aren’t just getting test results, but access to lots of additional information that has been thoughtfully put together in easy to understand terms at no additional cost. It is nice to know what Vitamin D does, where we get it naturally, and general guidance on how much vitamin D is recommended daily before ever having to consult a doctor.

My Overall Thoughts On This Experience

This entire process was incredibly easy and it took 12 days (including the weekend) from the time I decided to order the test to the time I received my results. Had I been extremely efficient and gotten my test back in the mail on Saturday, the time likely could have been cut down to as little as 9 days.

If I navigate through my Primary Care doctor’s schedule, the next available appointment is actually mine that I canceled on June 19th and then July 3rd. That is in 51 days and 65 days.

Could I have taken it upon myself to call up my doctor and have them add this test to my bloodwork that I would’ve had in June and have it cost me $0? Yes. I could have. I shouldn’t have had to as it’s actually my doctor’s job to monitor and order the correct tests! I shouldn’t have to be extremely health literate and have perfect memory and all that extra brain capacity to do such basic parts of someone else’s job.

I had looked into getting a new doctor, the doctor I had picked out was on maternity leave and would be back somewhere around now. I had hoped I could get established with that new doctor either sometime this month or in May, never having to worry about seeing that other PCP again. But, they are within the same health system and I am not going to enter a maskless healthcare facility unless I am in dire need of care. So that option is out the window.

Now, I have the test results I needed and they show that I’m in a great place. My levels have improved tremendously and I will be able to pass these results on to my OBGYN when I inform her that I’d like to wait until next year for anymore visits – since my bone density hasn’t improved we agreed we likely didn’t need yearly tests so I’d rather wait until 2024 for the next one – and I’m not due for a pap until next year as well.

Overall, this entire process was SO easy and I would not hesitate to order this same test again or any of their other offerings. I feel confident in the results and really value the way this company communicated with me throughout the process.

If this service interests you, I have a referral link for 15% off at Everywell which can be used on tests and telehealth services. If you use this link, I get a $35 gift card. Please do look at the offers Everywell is running at the time of your order, I personally had a $15 off offer which is a better deal than 15%.

What’s Next?

I do want to continue with receiving all of the health care I can online. For the time being, my insurance still covers telehealth through the end of the year and it is still an offered service by all of the health facilities I use.

I have looked into what virtual services are available and many of them do have their limitations. Everywell for example offers a variety of one time appointments, but they are not set up to manage ongoing conditions that require annual prescriptions. This is consistent across a handful of platforms – which I intend to compare in the future – meaning it is a great service for people who just need a check up.

Additionally, many of these services are covered by some insurances but not government insurance like Medicare, Medicaid or Tricare. That means that many of us who are chronically ill and/or disabled have to absorb the costs of cash pay for services. Even being payable out of health savings accounts, this is a financial burden many people simply cannot afford.

One platform – teledoc – offers a primary care type annual program, which may be the program I choose to investigate further as they do prescribe the annual medications that so many of us get from our in person primary care providers.

But at this point, I am going to send off a note to both my current PCP and my OBGYN regarding the results of this test. I will let my PCP know that I canceled our appointment along with my reasons and see if she is willing to conduct the physical through a virtual appointment, as there is genuinely no reason for me to be seen in person.

The best case scenario, cost wise, would be her agreeing to this arrangement, which would buy me a full year to explore online options without risking losing access to my heart medicine which she prescribes.


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