By Stephanie Murg, Managing Director, G2 Intelligence
Earlier this month, the state of Arizona removed all limits on the kinds of laboratory tests that could be ordered by patients with a bill shepherded into law (it takes effect in July) by Theranos (Palo Alto, Calif.), which is piloting its novel, consumer-focused approach at select Phoenix Walgreens locations. Now Laboratory Corporation of America (Burlington, N.C.) is preparing to bet big on direct-to-consumer (DTC) testing with an online platform that will allow consumers to bypass physicians to pay for tests, arrange a visit to a service center, and view their results. A drugstore partnership may also be in the works.
LabCorp has long been the lab behind the web-based DTC ventures of others, but now the company is ready to court customers directly. “We need to retake that territory for ourselves,” LabCorp CEO David King said in a recent interview with Bloomberg Businessweek. “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 initial focus of LabCorp’s DTC business will be online, with the possibility of entering into a drugstore partnership to expand access. This channel is nothing new to LabCorp or its chief competitor, Quest Diagnostics (Madison, N.J.), which have previously linked up with Duane Reade and CVS, respectively, with dismal results. But with mounting competition—or at least buzz—from Theranos and the momentum of patient-directed healthcare now on their side, the time may be right to get back in the game, and aggressively.
“The underlying principle is people have a right to control their health, so they should be able to find out anything they want about their health,” noted King, in a statement that echoed the philosophy of Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes. “We want to be sure we’re doing this in a compliant and responsible way.”