Proctored Drug Testing - It May Be More Secure Than You Think

By John Permenter and Brian Feeley on 5 min read
Proctored Drug Testing - It May Be More Secure Than You Think

By John Permenter and Brian Feeley 

This information is provided for educational purposes only. Reader retains full responsibility for the use of the information contained herein. 

Proctored drug testing, sometimes referred to as “virtual” testing, is drawing lots of attention today for some very good reasons.   

But some may think it is less secure than desirable because it is performed remotely and not done in-person, however, developers of this process have built in plenty of safeguards that make it more difficult to beat this test than you may think.  And when you consider the latest data from the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index, it is quite clear that urine testing is what we need to be most concerned about. Quest’s press release from May 15, 2024, says, “The increase in substituted urine specimens in the general U.S. workforce, a population of over 5.5 million, was 633% (0.015% in 2022 versus 0.11% in 2023). Invalid urine specimens in the general U.S. workforce increased 45.2% (0.31% in 2022 versus 0.45% in 2023). A result of substituted or invalid suggests a specimen has been tampered with in an attempt to conceal drug use.”1 There are literally hundreds of products being sold on the internet to dilute, substitute or adulterate urine samples, and if you have not searched for these, simply do a Google search on “pass my urine drug test” and you will be amazed at what you find! 

Some of the safeguards built into proctored oral fluid testing are: 1) Sealed kit packaging that cannot be opened until the live session begins, 2) the use of oral fluid collection / testing that is 100% directly observed, 3) apps that keep the donor in full view during the entire process, 4) QR codes that tie to each unique device, and 5) fully recorded sessions that can be viewed over and over to spot anything that appears unusual during the process. In addition to the safeguards, eMed Screen’s proctored testing using a rapid / instant oral fluid device, allows donors to test 24/7 with no need for pre-scheduling, which means no collection site scheduling issues, travel to/from the site, time lost during travel and very importantly, the ability to make hiring decisions immediately upon obtaining a negative result.    

Back to the cheating topic - of course there will always be would-be drug test cheaters regardless of the type of test being used. eMed Screen has observed some limited attempts to cheat the proctored test that serve as good real world case studies. In one example, an individual was observed drawing red lines on their device during the testing process trying to simulate a negative result. The donor had red marks on their fingers and had the red marker sitting on the desktop in full view of the proctor at one point during the testing. While this was a creative approach, red lines drawn on the outside face of the device would stick out like a sore thumb because the actual lines on the device that denote positive/negative results are inside the plastic housing and are very unique lines a trained proctor knows how to spot. While this behavior was clearly spotted and flagged by the proctor, the session recording tapes provide the cold hard data shared with the HR manager of the employer so they could see this applicant cheating the process. This applicant failed the test and certainly demonstrated a willingness to cheat on their drug test adding another negative aspect toward hiring this individual. 

In another attempt to cheat the proctored oral fluid test, an individual was seen putting saran wrap around the oral fluid collector in an attempt to prevent the collection of oral fluid when the swab is inserted into the mouth.  Another creative approach, however, this was all clearly being seen and recorded by the proctor.  In today’s world of Zoom, Teams, FaceTime, and more, so many of us have an acute awareness of what is going on during a call or webinar which has only helped proctors through their training processes.  On the other hand, eMed Screen proctors have observed many very cooperative donors who clearly want to be hired because they cooperate every step of the way, are patient and polite.  This too is all observed and recorded and shared with the employer.  In a sense, the proctored eMed Screen, gives the proctor a body cam of the donor during the test.   

From an application standpoint, a few positive outcomes of using proctored testing is provided.  One example is with a high turn-over government agency that was struggling to fill critical positions fast enough. They had been electing to hire people prematurely before a drug test result was available just to get these individuals in the door and not lose talent to the competition.  The proctored oral fluid test allowed them to test and hire much faster and save money to boot.  Another strong use case was seen with a logistics employer in distribution, packaging and warehousing.  In a similar case to above, this client was struggling to hire fast enough and losing applicants to other employers in the region.  After their first month performing proctored testing, they found themselves overstaffed in one of their toughest hiring locations and actually had to stop interviewing for a period of time, something they rarely, if ever had the liberty to do.    

In part, the COVID pandemic helped to drive proctored testing forward, pushing developers like eMed Screen to improve their processes, especially with the security side of these tests. Afterall, there is a difference between conducting a test on a willing patient who wants to know the outcome of their test versus one who needs to beat the test to be hired for a job.  Fortunately, the technology has advanced significantly over the last 3-5 years so we can all feel more secure when the use of this testing can help us hire faster or test an existing employee in situations that make sense.   

© 2010-2024 eMed Screen – No portion of this article may be reproduced, retransmitted, posted on a website, or used in any manner without the written consent of the eMed Screen. When permission is granted to reproduce this article in any way, full attribution to the author and copyright holder is required.  

1 Workforce Drug Test Cheating Surged in 2023, Finds Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index Analysis of Nearly 10 Million Drug Tests - May 15, 2024 


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