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Dx Deals: Walmart Teams with Simple HealthKit to Provide Accessible At-Home Testing

by | Jul 4, 2023

The national retailer recently signed a deal with Simple HealthKit to provide Walmart customers online access to at-home diagnostic test kits.

Walmart has been at the forefront of retail–diagnostics firm strategic partnerships designed to make lab testing more accessible to consumers. In January 2022, Walmart pivoted its direct-to-consumer (DTC) strategy by partnering with Quest Diagnostics to develop a user-friendly website offering a wide range of high-quality test kits for home use.1 On June 12, one of the US’s largest retailers boosted its DTC offerings further by inking a partnership with digital health company Simple HealthKit to provide Walmart customers online access to at-home diagnostic test kits.2

The Walmart–Simple HealthKit Deal

While Walmart’s DTC lab testing strategy hasn’t changed, this new venture has a different cast of characters. Simple HealthKit isn’t a lab-testing corporate giant like Quest, but a digital startup established to address healthcare inequity. The Fremont, CA, company whose mission is “to empower everyone to obtain better health[…]regardless of insurance or socioeconomic status,” offers a broad range of tests for common conditions, including diabetes, respiratory wellness, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), along with an end-to-end infrastructure supporting testing, follow-up, and treatment.3 In February, the company raised $8 million in Series A funding, bringing its total funding to $12 million.4

Simple HealthKit’s dedication to broad accessibility and affordability are a perfect match for Walmart’s traditional grassroots appeal, low-price marketing, and strategy of getting customers to engage proactively in their own health and wellness.

“We are excited to welcome Simple HealthKit to Walmart and provide customers a convenient way to assess their health at an everyday low price,” said Staci Cochran, MBA/MS, vice president of health merchandising at Walmart, in the statement announcing the deal.2 “It’s another way Walmart is helping customers be more proactive in their health and making wellness products and services more accessible.”

“Early detection of health conditions can change an individual’s course and quality of life,” added Simple HealthKit CEO and co-founder Sheena Menezes, PhD, in the same statement.

The Deal Dynamics

Under the deal, Walmart customers will be able to order Simple HealthKit’s at-home tests on the retailer’s website, including its2

  • HbA1c test for Type 2 diabetes,
  • respiratory wellness tests for influenza A, influenza B, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and
  • sexual wellness tests for three of the most common types of STIs—chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis.

Customers will order tests “with physician oversight,” collect their samples at home, and mail them to one of the company’s CLIA-certified and CAP-accredited labs, with results to be available within 24 hours of the sample’s receipt. If the test results are not normal, the Simple HealthKit system will connect the customer to follow-up care at no additional cost.

The Big Picture: Walmart’s Foray into the Healthcare Market

The collaboration with Simple HealthKit is just the latest lab-related application of the robust DTC healthcare strategy Walmart began before the pandemic. After partnering with lab companies on retail test arrangements, the company went on to become a provider with the 2019 launch of Walmart Health.5 The retail giant has since opened health centers across the US and expects to have over 75 centers nationwide by the end of 2024, including:6

  • 10 new locations in the Dallas, TX, metro area
  • 8 new locations in the Houston, TX, metro area
  • 6 new locations in the Phoenix, AZ, metro area
  • 4 new locations in the Kansas City, MO, metro area

In 2021, Walmart entered the virtual healthcare market by announcing the acquisition of telehealth company MeMD, now known as Walmart Health Virtual Care, a provider of virtual primary care, urgent care, and behavioral care.7

References:

  1. https://www.g2intelligence.com/quest-and-walmart-team-up-to-provide-easier-access-to-lab-tests/
  2. https://www.globenewswire.com/en/news-release/2023/06/12/2686370/0/en/Simple-HealthKit-Launches-At-Home-Testing-Kits-on-Walmart-com.html
  3. https://www.simplehealthkit.com/about/
  4. https://www.globenewswire.com/en/news-release/2023/02/06/2602229/0/en/Simple-HealthKit-Raises-8M-to-Transform-Health-Diagnostics-and-Follow-Up-Care-Expands-Portfolio-to-Include-Solutions-for-Sexual-Health-Tripledemic.html
  5. https://corporate.walmart.com/newsroom/2019/09/13/our-goal-of-becoming-americas-neighborhood-health-destination-introducing-the-walmart-health-center
  6. https://corporate.walmart.com/newsroom/2023/03/02/walmart-health-nearly-doubles-in-size-with-launch-into-two-new-states-in-2024
  7. https://corporate.walmart.com/newsroom/2021/05/06/walmart-health-to-acquire-telehealth-provider-memd

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Here’s a summary of other key strategic diagnostic deals announced in late May through June 2023:

Strategic Alliances, Partnerships, and Collaborations

Partner 1Partner(s) 2+Deal Summary
Pacific BiosciencesRadboud University Medical Center·       Objective: Evaluate long-read, whole-genome sequencing (WGS) as a first-line clinical assay for rare and genetic diseases
·       Dynamic: Study genetic causes of rare and genetic diseases, and feasibility and cost effectiveness of using PacBio’s HiFi sequencing technology as part of routine clinical use
GenedriveUniversity of Manchester (UoM) + Health Innovation Manchester + Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust·       Objective: Assess performance of Genedrive’s CYP2C19 ID Kit pharmacogenetic test
·       Dynamic: Genedrive receives UK government grant of undisclosed amount to validate its kit with focus on ischemic stroke patients in acute care who are to receive clopidogrel to prevent further clot formation
·       UoM to lead the program, building on an earlier partnership with Genedrive in the Pharmacogenetics to Avoid Loss of Hearing (PALOH) trial
SeegeneWerfen·       Objective: Jointly develop syndromic qPCR assays for healthcare systems in Spain and Portugal
·       Dynamic: Expand current partnership for co-development of qPCR assays to include, among other things, assays for STIs and drug resistance
TassoAptar Digital Health·       Objective: Make Tasso’s blood collection devices available to medical software firm Aptar’s end users
·       Dynamic: Tasso devices to be available to patients in Aptar’s clinical trials and to its life science company collaborators
·       Aptar to develop digital therapies, disease management platforms, and digital patient support programs
Aptamer GroupNeuro-Bio·       Objective: Develop lateral flow test for early detection of Alzheimer’s disease
·       Dynamic: Test to incorporate affinity agents developed by Neuro-Bio into a lateral flow assay targeting T14 peptide, which Neuro-Bio is currently validating as an Alzheimer’s disease marker
·       Test to use nasal sampling to potentially detect Alzheimer’s 10–20 years before onset of symptoms
MGI TechXpress Genomics·       Objective: Develop single-cell RNA-sequencing solutions
·       Dynamic: MGI to license single-cell RNA-seq techniques from Xpress Genomics that cover entire transcripts
FreenomeWalgreens·       Objective: Leverage Walgreens’ recruitment technology and local infrastructure to advance clinical studies of Freenome’s blood-based early cancer detection tests
·       Dynamic: Multiyear partnership with Walgreens to initially work with clinical trial facilitator Curebase to recruit patients for Freenome’s Sanderson Study evaluating blood-based early cancer detection for multiple cancer types, with hopes of enrolling about 8,000 participants
·       Companies to also work together to build risk-prediction models and population health software
Simple HealthKitWalmart·       Objective: Provide at-home diabetes, respiratory wellness, and sexual wellness tests to Walmart customers
·       Dynamic: Enable customers to purchase tests bolstered by Simple HealthKit’s end-to-end healthcare infrastructure including testing, follow-up, and treatment
Myriad GeneticsThe University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center·       Objective: Investigate the use of Myriad’s minimal residual disease (MRD) testing platform as a tool to guide treatment selection, surveillance, and radiotherapy response in metastatic renal cell carcinoma patients
·       Dynamic: The MRD test, which is currently available to Myriad’s academic and pharma partners for research use, can be used to monitor circulating tumor DNA levels during treatment or for surveillance after a diagnosis. Myriad’s MRD platform is based on whole-genome sequencing, compared to other MRD tests, which monitor 50 or fewer variants
Oxford Nanopore TechnologiesGeneyx·       Objective: Develop technology platform for analysis and clinical reporting of nanopore sequencing data
·       Dynamic: New software designed to load, visualize, and annotate nanopore sequencing data for newborn screening and for research and characterization of rare and undiagnosed diseases
·       Technology to integrate with Oxford Nanopore’s EPI2ME cloud-based analysis platform
T2 BiosystemsVanderbilt University Medical Center·       Objective: Implement and evaluate T2’s FDA-cleared T2Bacteria® Panel in a clinical setting
·       Dynamic: Vanderbilt to conduct a prospective study assessing impact of direct-from-blood T2Bacteria® Panel on improving antibiotic usage and clinical interventions for patients with bloodstream infections
Siemens HealthineersWingcopter·       Objective: Provide Siemens’ lab testing services in areas of Africa with limited access to health care
·       Dynamic: Use Wingcopter’s drone-based service for quick delivery of patient samples, medicine, and other medical products, and to maintain cold chains for those products
·       Delivery network to also allow the centralization of sample testing and medical consumable distribution
IMBdxAstraZeneca·       Objective: Improve access to targeted therapies for individuals with metastatic prostate cancer in markets outside US
·       Dynamic: Expand ongoing PROSPER 2.0 project offering access to IMBdx’s blood-based NGS AlphaLiquid® HRR test analyzing ctDNA in plasma to detect alterations in 15 genes associated with homologous recombination repair (HRR)
PathomIQNeuberg Diagnostics·       Objective: Commercialize machine learning-based tool for predicting prostate cancer recurrence
·       Dynamic: Roll out PathomIQ’s PATHOMIQ_PRAD as a laboratory-developed test in the US, followed by other international markets
GrapheneDxSapphiros + General Graphene·       Objective: Manufacture and commercialize GrapheneDx’s 5-minute tests, starting with sexually transmitted infection tests
·       Dynamic: General Graphene to be GrapheneDx’s preferred supplier of graphene, which will be used in Sapphiros’ facility to manufacture point-of-care and consumer-use diagnostic tests
·       Sapphiros will help commercialize tests through its existing partners
Lunaphore TechnologiesCell Signaling Technology·       Objective: Provide antibody-based spatial protein analysis
·       Dynamic: Enable use of CST’s antibodies on Lunaphore’s Comet platform
Lyric (formerly ClaimsXten Portfolio)Concert Genetics·       Objective: Improve claim payment accuracy
·       Dynamic: Combine Concert’s genetic testing payment module with Lyric’s claims editing software, which applies health plan, governmental, and industry payment policies to a specific claim
AccuStem SciencesCleveland’s University Hospitals·       Objective: Build data supporting further clinical utility of the StemPrintER test in treatment decisions, beyond its use for predicting cancer recurrence
·       Dynamic: Agreement covers multiple cancers with initial focus on breast cancer, with University Hospitals providing AccuStem with breast cancer tissue samples coupled with clinical outcomes
MEDiC Life SciencesBristol Myers Squibb·       Objective: Discover targets for solid tumors
·       Dynamic: Research collaboration with MEDiC to use its 3D tumor models to perform CRISPR-based functional genomics screens in solid tumor indications
·       MEDiC to receive upfront payments and will be eligible for additional option payments on a target-by-target basis, as well as future development and regulatory milestone payments
Foundation Medicine (Roche subsidiary)Merck KGaA·       Objective: Develop companion diagnostics for US market
·       Dynamic: Develop the FoundationOne® CDx and FoundationOne® Liquid CDx tests as companion diagnostics for selected marketed and pipeline treatments from Merck KGaA
InvivoscribeComplete Genomics·       Objective: Develop and commercialize oncology biomarker tests using Complete Genomics’ NGS platforms
·       Dynamic: Global partnership with Invivoscribe responsible for development of biomarker tests and associated bioinformatics software using Complete Genomics’ DNBSEQ-G99 and DNBSEQ-G99RS platforms
·       Companies also plan to develop CLIA/CAP-validated tests within Invivoscribe’s worldwide network of clinical laboratories, including in US, Europe, Japan, and China
VazymeAzenta Life Sciences·       Objective: Provide one-stop services to companies in fields including NGS, automated library preparation, raw materials, consumables, and sample storage
·       Dynamic: Global agreement to collaborate on automated sample solutions, oligonucleotide synthesis, molecular biology services, and Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) standard specification services
Caris Life SciencesConcertAI·       Objective: Develop molecular, clinical, and multimodal database
·       Dynamic: Expand partnership launched earlier this year with firms to align their clinical trial networks for patient identification and matching, and provide software tools for research

Distribution, Sales, and Marketing Agreements

Product OwnerDistributorDeal Summary
Genetic AnalysisELTA90 Group (based in Bulgaria)·       Products: Genetic Analysis’ GA-map® microbiome testing platform
·       Territories: Balkans
Mainz BiomedTESTDNA·       Products: Mainz Biomed’s ColoAlert at-home colorectal cancer detection test
·       Territories: Poland
MeMedDiaSorin·       Products: MeMed BV® immunoassay for rapid differentiation between bacterial and viral infections in 15 minutes
·       Territories: Italy
·       DiaSorin gets rights to distribute test to support antimicrobial stewardship in Italy

Licenses

LicensorLicenseeDeal Summary
ProteomedixLabcorpLabcorp gets exclusive rights to develop and commercialize Proteomedix’s Proclarix® prostate specific antigen (PSA) test in the US

Government Contracts

ContractorGovt. AgencyContract Summary
PrenosisU.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA)$749,000 contract for Prenosis to demonstrate the clinical value of its Sepsis ImmunoScore™, an AI/machine learning-based software for predicting sepsis based on clinical parameters and protein biomarkers

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