Quest Releases Smartphone App For Patients to Receive Direct Results
It was a case of carpe diem for Quest Diagnostics. On April 7, the day that federal regulations began to go into force allowing patients to receive tests results directly from a laboratory without a physician review, the New Jersey-based Quest released a sophisticated patient portal and affiliated smartphone application to take advantage of the […]
It was a case of carpe diem for Quest Diagnostics. On April 7, the day that federal regulations began to go into force allowing patients to receive tests results directly from a laboratory without a physician review, the New Jersey-based Quest released a sophisticated patient portal and affiliated smartphone application to take advantage of the change. The app, known as MyQuest, was developed in-house and is compatible on both the iPhone and Android platforms. It allows patients to obtain their test results and interpretations directly from a Quest laboratory. In addition to receiving such data, the app allows patients to make appointments at the 2,200 Quest draw stations, send data to physicians, and create personal health profiles that include an individual’s medical conditions, the medications they take, and other relevant information. The app can also be used to monitor information from the Withings mobile blood pressure cuff and body scale, which are typically used to monitor ongoing conditions in patients with chronic conditions such as hypertension or congestive heart failure. Quest officials say the easier exchange of information is expected to encourage greater dialogues between patients and their providers. “Because most health care decisions are based on diagnostic insights, patients who access their lab results may be more likely to have a well-informed dialogue about medical options with their physician,” said Jon R. Cohen, M.D., Quest’s chief medical officer. The use of mobile applications to facilitate the movement and sharing of information has been growing in health care—Kaiser Permanente, for example, provides a sophisticated mobile app for its patients—but their use on the consumer side in the laboratory sector has been sparse. Health Diagnostic Laboratory launched a patient-oriented mobile app last month, but that appears to be the entire mobile lab-patient interface for now. LabCorp, the second-largest laboratory in the nation, has a mobile app for providers and a patient portal for desktop and laptop computers, but not yet one for smartphones, according to a company spokesperson. Although the changes of the regulations regarding patient sharing are expected to stir some more of the larger labs to create applications, that appears to be in its preliminary phases. “I have heard some discussion occurring but have not seen any specific applications yet,” said R. Scott Liff, president of business development at the Kellison Co., a laboratory consulting firm in Cleveland. The lab sector has been split over what kind of patient demand there will be for direct testing. Some lab executives that operate in the nine states that allowed data transmission to patients say the demand has been relatively low. PAML, the largest laboratory in the Pacific Northwest, says demand to see tests in Oregon—which permits direct transmission—has been tiny. Others, such as the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which automatically transmits all test results to patients after a physician review, say such sharing has been very popular. And there is also debate as to whether demand will be greater among younger more tech-savvy patients compared to their older counterparts. According to Quest officials, the demand by patients to receive their test results directly has been fairly strong. It was receiving about 50,000 requests per month from patients for their test results in the states that allowed direct transmission prior to the changing of the federal regulations, said company spokesperson Wendy Bost. Given that the number of states that will make them available has more than tripled overnight, Quest sees demand rising accordingly. “We expect that number to increase as patients nationally choose to access their lab data directly,” Bost said. Takeaway: The change in federal regulations surrounding the transmission of lab results directly to patients may create a new market for consumer-oriented mobile apps.