News | November 30, 2023

Switch Health Develops Canada's First At-Home Diagnostic Diabetes Test

In commemoration of Diabetes Awareness Month, Switch Health’s at-home HbA1c test allows you to get diagnostic-grade results, without having to travel to a lab for a traditional blood draw

Toronto, ON (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) - Individuals living with or suspected of having diabetes can now take greater control of their well-being from the comfort of their homes with Switch Health's new Hemoglobin A1c test, the first of its kind in Canada.

Switch Health's innovative at-home HbA1c test allows people with diabetes or those suspecting the condition to collect Dry Blood Spot (DBS) samples at home. These samples are then sent to a licensed and accredited laboratory for analysis, eliminating the need for in-person visits to a doctor's office, hospital, or laboratory.

The process resembles the heel prick test conducted on newborns. Patients simply prick their finger, let the blood drops fall on a special sheet and re-package the specimen before the kit is picked up from their home, or placed in the nearest Purolator drop box.

"This represents the next level of at-home testing, especially beneficial for patients in non-urban areas or those facing challenges in getting around due to age or condition," said Dr. Gregory Taylor, Switch Health’s Chief Medical Officer. "For individuals who may be uneasy about public settings or lack the time for in-person blood draws during the day, this will be a game-changer."

To get started, users can visit the Switch Health website, select the HbA1c test kit, and complete an intake form, which determines medical necessity and public coverage of test processing (currently only for Ontario residents.) The kit will then be delivered to the individual’s doorstep, where they can self-administer the Dry Blood Spot (DBS) test with the support of Switch Health’s digital experience provided through their proprietary patient portal.

The HbA1c test gauges average blood sugar level over the past two to three months. Glucose, derived from the foods we eat, is a vital energy source for cells and is regulated by insulin. In diabetes, insufficient insulin production or ineffective utilization by cells leads to elevated blood sugar. The A1c test measures the percentage of red blood cells coated with glucose-bound hemoglobin as an indicator of blood glucose levels. Elevated A1c levels signal increased diabetes-related health risks like heart disease and kidney damage. Management through treatment and lifestyle changes is crucial for controlling blood glucose levels.

The Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee recommends HbA1c tests every three to six months, depending on blood sugar levels.

"Our HbA1c dry blood spot testing has undergone extensive laboratory validation, proving its equivalence to in-person blood collection without leaving home," said Dr. Chris McCudden, Clinical Biochemist and Switch Health Medical Advisor. "This method holds great promise for simplifying diabetes monitoring and increasing access, especially in rural and remote locations."

According to Diabetes Canada, people living with diabetes face a higher risk of hospitalization due to cardiovascular disease and end-stage renal disease. Complications are also linked to premature death, potentially reducing lifespan by five to 15 years.

Additional information:

  • 11.9 million Canadians live with diabetes or are prediabetic.
  • 30 percent of Ontarians live with diabetes or are prediabetic.
  • $1.7 billion is the estimated cost to the Ontario health care system in 2023.

This marks Switch Health's latest at-home, self-collected test, following the introduction of at-home HPV and STI testing kits this fall.

Click here to watch a demonstration of the kit.

Switch Health Co-Founder Marc Thomson is available for interviews upon request. For further information or to schedule an interview, please contact:

About Switch Health
Switch Health is a health technology company on a mission to make health diagnostics accessible to all Canadians. This mission drives the company's decentralized testing model and discreet home self-collection kits, covering various aspects of general health, wellness, and specific disease areas. Switch Health specializes in the intersection of diagnostics and logistics, utilizing state-of-the-art lab diagnostics through their laboratory partnership network and their own ISO-certified laboratory, Bio-Test Laboratory.

Source: Switch Health