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Major players from large commercial retailers to diagnostic companies are jumping on the direct-to-consumer (DTC) bandwagon, entering into partnerships to offer consumers at-home tests or in some instances open up testing centers at retail sites.
Target’s recent agreement with digital health company EverlyWell, whose product line includes an expansive list of test panels such as high-risk HPV, post-menopause, fertility, and vitamins, is indicative of this trend. Target currently sells 10 of Everlywell’s tests in more than 1,600 stores, according to one news report. This isn’t about disrupting routine medical testing, Julia Cheek, Everlywell’s founder and CEO, said in the report. “The EverlyWell platform connects consumers to physicians and lab tests that are already validated and available through third-party certified lab partners but with price and results transparency … EverlyWell is not creating new or novel medical devices or lab tests,” Cheek told news organization Retail Dive.
Under a new financing agreement, the company is seeking additional partnerships with CVS, which already offers a wide selection of at-home tests, and Humana.
Best Buy is also embracing the at-home test kit. The retailer has exclusive rights to the TytoHome medical device from TytoCare, a kit that allows consumers to record their pain points, capture images via a smartphone app, and send the results to a physician for review and diagnosis. The allure of using this device is it spares consumers from trying visits to emergency departments, if symptoms appear in the middle of the night, according to a statement from Best Buy.
Even some major lab companies have taken steps to expand their at-home tests. Diagnostic testing giant Quest, which offers a robust selection of DTC tests through its QuestDirect online service, recently announced the availability of three new online laboratory test packages for sexually transmitted diseases (STD). Consumers in 45 states can access these tests through QuestDirect and review their results on a secure portal, with an option to share the results with their primary care provider. “Licensed physicians provide oversight for all lab tests, based upon the information that individuals provide to Quest. This includes ordering tests, if appropriate, and evaluating results once available,” the company stated.
LabCorp in the meantime has partnered with Walgreens to open up 600 testing centers at the retailer’s stores across the United States over the next 4 years, expanding a consumer-focused initiative it began in 2017 at 17 stores in several states. “LabCorp at Walgreens is a central piece of our expanding consumer strategy, as we continue to create new channels for our offering by meeting consumers where they want to be met, extending the reach of our mission to improve health and improve lives,” said David P. King, LabCorp’s chairman and CEO, in a statement.
AACC has been following this move toward nontraditional lab venues in its publications and meetings. Clinical Laboratory News reported on the trend of government health labs and other companies offering up more private online solutions for STD testing. While some in public health have supported these efforts, others have expressed concerns that the model limits physician involvement and could lead to misleading results. The issue of DTC tests will also be on the agenda at the 71st AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo in Anaheim, California. A special session will focus on DTC genetic tests, discussing the different types of tests, regulatory aspects, clinical validity and utility, and how consumer genetic testing fits into medical care.