Summary: “Consumers will soon be able to bypass their doctors by going online to order cholesterol readings, thyroid tests and other bloodwork from the biggest diagnostics company in the U.S.,” Bloomberg News reports.
The story is a reflection of the changing world of lab work. A number of online providers have been serving as middlemen, allowing customers to call and contract with them for lab work, paying online, then receiving a voucher that they take to a major bricks-and-mortar lab like LabCorp.
There’s also new competition from Theranos, a Silicon Valley startup that promises cheaper lab tests with less blood drawn, from retail locations.(Update, February 2016: Theranos has encountered a series of challenges and setbacks to its technology and business model; here’s a New York Times article.) Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban got into the act too recently, recommending that healthy people have their blood tested regularly, and bringing a storm of condemnation and debate.
Also, as our reporting shows, the prices for lab tests can be all over the map. Here’s a blog post about that.
So this change is, well, big.
“Laboratory Corp. of America Holdings will let customers go online to pay for tests, visit a service center to get blood drawn, then view the results on the Web. The company has already been doing back-office lab work for a number of Internet firms that let people order up tests without a doctor,” Cynthia Koons reported on Bloomberg.
“Rapid and at-home diagnostics are a growing corner of the health-care market, with businesses like WellnessFX Inc. and Direct Laboratory Services LLC tapping into demand from patients who want to get sensitive results in private or seek to monitor their health outside of the traditional doctor’s office. Companies like LabCorp are tapping into demand from consumers who want to measure their bodies to monitor the effects of exercise and healthy living and to learn about their potential risks of disease.
“ ‘We need to retake that territory for ourselves,’ LabCorp Chief Executive Officer David King said in a telephone interview. ‘It’s a growth opportunity for us. It’s something consumers increasingly want to have access to, and it’s something we’re doing already and our capabilities are being utilized without us getting the benefit from a branding perspective.’ ” “The Doctor Is Out: LabCorp to Let Consumers Order Own Tests,” Bloomberg Business.