The one where Reaktorians took the My Nightingale blood test

This holiday season Reaktor, a leading tech consultancy in Finland, gifted the My Nightingale Starter Package to their 400+ employees. We caught up with two Reaktorians—Jari Mäkelä and Liina Hilkamo—to get some first-hand feedback and talk about their experience of the blood test and the app.

For Jari Mäkelä, it was a perfect Christmas gift. “You see, I have the Eastern Finland gene. I have to be very careful about my cholesterol levels,” says the 49-year-old chief architect.

Jari has been measuring his cholesterol levels once every two years for quite some time now. So, when Reaktor offered an advanced blood-based health test as their yearly present, it was a nice opportunity for Jari to try out a new technology that was until recently only available for world-leading scientists.

For those new to My Nightingale, it isn’t a typical test done to diagnose diseases. Based on a single blood sample, the My Nightingale app provides a three-tier view—Nightingale Health Index, six health indicators and numerous biomarkers—which give a comprehensive view into a person’s health and how different lifestyle choices affect it. It can also predict a person’s future health risks, such as type 2 diabetes and heart diseases, and therefore act as a preventive tool which can help people avert such chronic diseases.

Not your typical lab test

Jari was positively surprised by the extensive information the app shared based on just one blood test. “I have been going for blood test regularly for some years now and compared to the traditional test you get much more comprehensive information in an easy to understand language. In fact, there are some information, such as low-grade inflammation, that you won’t even find in a regular health report,” he says.

But no matter how cool the health data is, one is bound to wince a little at the thought of going to a lab. Liina Hilkamo, the 26-year-old from the Marketing and Communications team at Reaktor, begs to differ. “I am not a big fan of labs, but this didn't feel like going to the doctors or a clinic. Partly because of the atmosphere but also because of the nurses make you feel relaxed. Also, it was much faster,” she says.

Having a pop-up in the office premise added to the convenience as people didn’t even have to schedule a visit or travel. Nightingale Nest came to them.

App-ing it up

The blood draw is just a means to the end. What came next—the health results—is the real deal. And they get delivered straight to Jari and Liina’s pocket via the My Nightingale app.

“My first reaction was—oh, that was fast!” says Liina. All Reaktorians got their results the very next day of taking the test. “The results were definitely much easier to understand than a lab report. The app has a scoring system that goes up to 100. Plus, the nice visuals made it simple to read. The combination of colours and graphics is not at all like a standard blood test result that you can barely read. I was actually able to understand what these numbers meant,” Liina tells enthusiastically.

Jari agrees, “If someone doesn’t know how biomarkers work, the app is still easy to follow as it tells you which biomarkers affect which areas of your health. So, you don’t really need a doctor to interpret the results for you.”

Health details you didn’t know

The app also helped the two discover new aspects of their health.

“There were no big surprises in the results, and everything was good except my inflammation score, something I didn’t even consider measuring or looking into before this,” says Liina.

Liina tells that she also learned quite a few new health terms that she wasn’t aware of before, like all the biomarkers. “After fiddling with the app for a while, I found all the information inside it and everything was explained in a very simple way. I especially liked the little tips of “how to improve” a certain health parameter. Those were handy.”

For Jari, it was the exclamation marks that caught his attention first. “It was quite a bit of a surprise for me to see the results, as my cholesterol levels are much higher than the last time I checked. I wasn’t expecting it to be so high,” says Jari. But then he discovered how ApoB and ApoA1 affect his heart health. “I wasn’t familiar with ApoB and ApoA1 markers and how they affect so many aspects of a person’s metabolic health. I was only looking and LDL- and HDL-cholesterol levels. So, that was educational. Similarly, it was an eye-opener for me how the cholesterol values are connected to diabetes risks,” he tells.

Before taking the follow-up test, which is built into the Starter Package, Jari plans on starting an intervention. “I’ll probably stay away from dairy products and red meat. Even exercise more and then see how my results change.” Liina, on the other hand, doesn’t plan on making any big changes to her everyday routine. “I am guessing the inflammation score was not great because the last few months have been a bit stressful for me. So, I’ll just try to sleep better now,” she explains.

The blood test you’ll retake

Although a blood test may sound like a rather odd thing to suggest to family and friends, both Jari and Liina say not only will they take the test again but would recommend it too.

“I would switch to My Nightingale than doing my usual blood test because it has so much more information, with so many different biomarkers that give information about so many different areas of my health and if someone is into this, My Nightingale is a better quality blood test than the standard one,” says Jari.

Liina says, “To be very honest, I might not have taken this test by myself if this wasn’t given as a Christmas present from Reaktor. However, after receiving the results and getting to know so much more about my health, I am super excited to take the test again and see how my health improves. In fact, when I think of it now, my favourite part of the service is the in-built follow-up that lets me take the test again and compare results.”

After receiving the results and knowing so much more about my health, I'm super excited to take the test again and see how my health improves.