GetCheckedOnline (GCO), Canada’s first internet-based testing service for sexually-transmitted and blood-borne infection (STBBI), celebrates its 5 year anniversary this month.
GetCheckedOnline lets individuals test for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV and hepatitis C without needing to see a doctor or nurse in person. Through the GCO website, people can create their own laboratory requisitions, visit a participating LifeLabs for specimen collection, and get their results online (if all negative) or over the phone (if any positive)
GetCheckedOnline is a PHSA virtual health intervention, developed by the BC Centre for Disease Control in close partnership with the BCCDC Public Health Laboratory. The program launched in Vancouver, BC, in September 2014; in February 2016, it expanded to Island Health (Victoria, Duncan) and Interior Health (Kamloops, Nelson) in collaboration with the regional health authorities.
To date, over 16,500 accounts have been created on GCO, with test numbers that continue to climb each month. At its peak, over 1000 test episodes (when someone goes through the steps of creating a lab form, providing samples, and getting results) were completed through GCO in a single month.
Figure 1: Number of GetCheckedOnline testing episodes completed per month
Some key successes from research and program evaluation
GCO reaches populations at higher risk of STBBI and those who face barriers to testing :
- GCO clients report experiencing barriers to testing 2-3 times more often than clinic clients. More people who used GCO reported previously delaying testing due to distance and wait times, discomfort discussing sexual health where they usually go for testing, and fearing judgement from any healthcare provider.
- Up to 1 in 5 GCO clients report never having previously tested for STBBI
- 1 in 20 testers are diagnosed with an STI.
GCO clients are highly satisfied with the service :
- 95% of those surveyed were satisfied with GCO, would use the service again, and would recommend GCO to others
GCO is helping to improve access to testing across BC :
- In suburban and rural areas, GCO has reached a high proportion of people who have never tested previously for STBBI.
- A higher proportion of GCO clients test for STBBI more than once, and test more frequently compared to STI clinic clients .
- GCO clients value both the convenience and the privacy aspects of the service.
What’s ahead for GetCheckedOnline?
In response to client feedback, the team will be making a variety of changes to the website to improve the overall user experience with GCO. Two new communities will also begin offering GCO in the coming months, so stay tuned!
For more information about research related to GetCheckedOnline, visit DishiResearch.
The Online Sexual Health Services team would like to acknowledge the tremendous work of the BCCDC STI clinic nurses and clerical staff, as well as our partners at Interior Health Authority, Vancouver Island Health Authority, the BCCDC Public Health Laboratory, and LifeLabs who support the program every day.
- Gilbert M, Thomson K, Salway T, Haag D, Grennan T, Fairley CK, Buchner C, Krajden M, Kendall P, Shoveller J, Ogilvie G. Differences in experiences of barriers to STI testing between clients of the internet-based diagnostic testing service GetCheckedOnline.com and an STI clinic in Vancouver, Canada. Sex Transm Infect. 2019 Mar;95(2):151-156.https://dishiresearch.ca/
- Gilbert M, Thomson K, Salway T, Haag D, Grennan T, Fairley C, Buchner C, Tyndall M, Krajden K, Ogilvie G, Shoveller J. High satisfaction with and loyalty to GetCheckedOnline.com among first-time users of an online STI testing service in British Columbia, Canada. STI & HIV World Congress, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 9-12, 2017.https://dishiresearch.ca/
- Ablona A, Korol E, Gauthier B, Campeau L, Bannar-Martin S, Karlsson M, Hiscoe L, Hoyano D, Haag D, Grennan T, Gilbert M. Regional differences in use of GetCheckedOnline and client characteristics across British Columbia, Canada. STI & HIV World Congress, July 14-17, Vancouver, 2019. https://dishiresearch.ca/
- Gilbert M, Salway T, Haag D, Elliot E, Fairley C, Krajden M, Grennan T, Shoveller J, Ogilvie GS. A cohort study comparing rate of repeat testing for sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections between clients of an internet-based testing programme and of sexually transmitted infection clinics in Vancouver, Canada. Sex Transm Infect. 2019 Aug 29.https://dishiresearch.ca/