Three reasons clinical labs should offer testing services directly to consumers
Mark Dorner is co-founder and CEO of PreciseMDX, the leading digital health diagnostics platform. Dorner has more than 30 years of experience leading digital transformation for global businesses ranging from venture-backed start-ups to Fortune 500 companies.
The overwhelming need for COVID-19 testing will inevitably fade, which will prompt laboratories to uncover new revenue streams through additional testing methods. Consumer demand for and acceptance of testing outside the walls of a physician’s office or hospital presents growth opportunities.
To take advantage of these direct-to-consumer opportunities, labs must invest in laboratory software that is sophisticated enough to allow the management and tracking of patient journeys from test purchases to the transmittal of results.
Millennials and other digital natives are upending many industries, including health care, so the time is ripe to embrace this new paradigm. Employers who value disease prevention to safeguard employee health and rein in escalating health care costs are another ripe market, as are pharmacies interested in private label testing.
Here are three reasons to offer testing services directly to consumers.
1. Patient expectations
Direct-to-consumer testing is already occurring, as evidenced by Everlywell and the partnership between CVS and Quest Diagnostics. Digital natives are especially accustomed to self-service options for nearly everything from checking their blood pressure to renewing prescriptions online, so laboratory testing would be a welcome option.
Routine tests for women’s fertility, STIs, diabetes, colon cancer screening, and many others are available online and at retail locations. Part of the issue is convenience, but cost factors into the equation too. Especially for those with high-deductible insurance, the cost of going to a doctor for influenza or COVID-19 testing is likely more expensive than buying and taking the tests themselves. If results were available in the same time frame, why wouldn’t consumers take advantage of that option?
2. Choice and convenience
Local and regional labs are starting to partner with pharmacies to offer testing at the retail level. Comprehensive lab software makes this possible, automating many of the processes required to manage and process tests in a timely fashion. The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) partnered with a lab software provider to offer COVID-19 tests through on-campus vending machines.
Vending machines in office buildings, warehouses, manufacturing facilities, and other locations can encourage employees to take COVID-19 tests at the first hint of illness. The costs for other tests could be subsidized by the employer’s insurance as an incentive to participate in wellness.
3. Pushing beyond price
Laboratory testing centers on three principles: price, turnaround time, and quality. Government inspections ensure the latter, so price and turnaround time are the differentiators.
As consumer testing escalates, consumer experience will emerge as a way labs can stand out from competitors. It’s not as simple as putting a test on a retail shelf, in a vending machine, or online, however. Labs need to ensure they have the right processes in place to map each test and retail channel to provide a superior consumer experience.
Fundamental changes are coming to laboratory tests, including how and where they are ordered and by whom. Smaller and independent laboratories have an opportunity to stabilize and grow their businesses during and after the pandemic by offering their own end-to-end testing services aimed at consumers.
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