Industry Trends: Continued Momentum for Lab-Retail Collaboration

The Theranos debacle hasn’t dissuaded retailers from partnering with labs. Here’s a rundown of some recent deals.

LabCorp & Walgreens
In fact, Walgreens, Theranos’s ex-retail partner, has moved on and entered into an agreement with another blood-testing firm. But instead of an unproven start-up, the nation’s second-largest pharmacy store has gone with a known entity, LabCorp. 

Walgreens recently announced that it will open 600 blood-testing sites in its drugstores over the next four years, inclusive of the 17 locations that have opened since the initiative launched in June 2017.

Quest & Walmart
Walgreens is hardly the only giant retailer to offer lab services. Last year, Walmart entered into an agreement with Quest Diagnostics to bring co-branded lab drug testing services to 15 Walmart in-store pharmacy locations in Florida and Texas.

Quest & Albertsons
Quest also has a retail collaboration with Albertsons, the parent company of supermarket chains Randalls, Safeway, Tom Thumb and Vons. As of Dec. 1, there were Quest Diagnostic Patient Service Centers at 183 Albertsons locations in 11 states. Each Quest Diagnostic Patient Service Center has its own entrance inside the store, frosted privacy windows, a customer waiting area and a private restroom for patients’ use. Walk-ins are welcome, but scheduled patients get priority.

CVS & MinuteClinic
The largest pharmacy healthcare provider in the country, CVS also offers lab testing. However, these services are part of larger offerings through its MinuteClinic; lab testing is only available in conjunction with a standard service.

MinuteClinic, originally founded in 2000 as QuickMedx, was the first “retail clinic” in the US. Today, it’s a full-blown division of CVS operating more than 1,000 in-store clinics across 32 states and the District of Columbia.

MinuteClinic offers in-clinic and send-out labs and tests. In-clinic labs and tests include A1C, Adeno test, blood sugar test, flu test influenza A & B, lipid panel, mono test, pregnancy test, strep test, and urine dip stick. Send-out labs and tests include follow-up strep test and urine culture.

Why Go There?
On the surface, offering lab testing services in retail environments may seem odd. But it’s part of a larger trend to offer customers and patients greater convenience.

The arrangement also provides a new source of revenue for large clinical lab operators and retailers. In addition, it’s a way for retailers to differentiate themselves from the competition.

At the same time, it is indicative of a shift in focus in the healthcare market – a shift that has created what would have previously been considered unusual, if not highly questionable, partnerships. CVS’s $69 billion acquisition of health insurer Aetna, which closed in late November, is an example of this.

As the healthcare market continues to evolve, look for more partnerships with the potential to impact the lab industry.


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