Usability of COVID-19 Antigen Home Test Kits

Which at-home tests are easiest to use?

Spread of the highly-transmissible omicron variant is leading to record outbreaks of coronavirus. Rapid COVID-19 home tests provide results in under an hour, often in under 10 minutes. These at home tests are more convenient and allow consumers to avoid long wait-times at testing centers, thereby helping mitigate community spread.

ECRI conducted a usability evaluation to determine if there were any differences in ease of use for the rapid COVID-19 tests. ECRI’s unique work adds important guidance to help our nation during a global pandemic. If and when supplies of home tests are more widely available, this report will help guide consumer’s choice based on ease of use.

Our report, Usability of COVID-19 Antigen Home Test Kits, provides ease-of-use ratings and pros and cons for the following seven rapid tests that ECRI purchased through online and retail stores in December 2021.

  • BD Veritor
  • BinaxNOW
  • CareStart
  • Flowflex
  • InteliSwab
  • On/Go
  • QuickVue

The bottom line to consumers: If you have a choice, it’s better to get a higher rated test. View the full report.

ECRI’s evaluation showed that some rapid tests are much easier to use than others. If given an option, consumers should choose the test that ranked highly. Difficulty using a test can lead to errors.
Marcus Schabacker, MD, PhDPresident & CEO, ECRI

Visit ECRI's COVID-19 Resource Center for additional resources.

ECRI, an independent nonprofit organization advancing effective, evidenced-based healthcare globally, self-funded this usability study of home COVID-19 antigen tests as a public service to consumers and healthcare providers. ECRI has no financial ties to the test manufacturers and all employees abide by the strictest conflict-of-interest policies that assure our objectivity.

When ECRI evaluates medical devices that have been approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), we often find usability issues or safety issues, but rarely issues with the accuracy of the device. That’s why we decided to perform usability testing on these home COVID tests. It is important for consumers to be aware that the FDA granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for these products, not full approval. Management of EUAs were named the top hazard on ECRI’s 2021 Top 10 Health Technology Hazards list.

For questions, contact us today.

For consumer information to avoid mistakes when taking medicines, visit Consumer Med Safety.