Direct-to-Consumer Testing: Maximizing Lab Profits

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Table of Content


What is direct-to-consumer lab testing?

Any laboratory tests that do not require a clinician assisted sample collection that can be sent or sold directly to a consumer in a self contained kit can be considered a “direct-to-consumer” lab testing kit. 

Let’s face it. Even before COVID-19, direct-to-consumer laboratory testing was gaining traction in an industry dominated by in-person, on-location testing facilities. However, as laboratory testing technology advances, and consumer demand for convenient at-home testing rises in areas such as direct-to-consumer genomics, rapid screening, and non-invasive colon cancer screening, the impact of COVID-19 accelerated the rate of adoption for in-home and direct-to-consumer testing dramatically from CLIA certified labs. And, at the same time, changing consumer buying behavior patterns and positive attitudes toward the reliability of such tests helped make direct-to-consumer the new frontier for laboratory revenue growth.

With COVID accelerating the adoption of consumer purchasing, and shifting purchasing patterns for items and services that used to be exclusively delivered in brick-and-mortar locations, even older populations, once afraid of online buying, have shifted their purchase patterns to the convenience of a single click from their favorite mobile devices. Now that everyone is comfortable ordering the latest necessities or the next fresh meal online, it was inevitable that direct-to-consumer testing became the next paradigm shift in how independent laboratories can increase profit and decrease operating cost in 2022 and beyond.

Direct-to-consumer testing market delivers new revenue growth for Laboratories 

While the direct-to-consumer and at-home testing market has gained some traction in 2022, it is expected to see significant expansion in the coming decade, growing in excess of $9 Billion by 2031. That’s a 22% growth in a very competitive market, far outpacing the current projected growth of the overall market of independent testing of just under 7%, as reported by ReportLinker.com – Clinical Laboratory Services Market – Growth, Trends, COVID-19 Impact, and Forecasts (2022 – 2027). Within this fast-growing segment of the market, sub-segments like saliva testing are projected to have a large percentage of the growth. 

So, unlike complicated blood sugar tests for diabetes, or other testing for preventative care that require blood samples, saliva test is situated for dominant growth in the DTC testing market. Saliva tests that can provide a rapid result for specific disease, are easy to collect and provide an accurate and quick turn-around time, and can be ordered from the comfort of one’s home. With telemedicine becoming a widely accepted means of today’s value-added care, a physician can authorize or order a test, a patient can take the test at home, and a result will be available in 24-72 hours all without the patient having to leave the confines of their home.

For independent laboratories, this is a tremendous growth opportunity – acquiring new patients outside of the stagnant traditional in-person testing model.

But driving DTC revenue for labs has its challenges

Indeed, the growth opportunity is tremendous, and the benefits of having access to a large and new buyer population without the geographical limitations is a game changer for this industry. But implementing a workflow and platform to enable direct-to-consumer testing can be challenging if an independent laboratory does not have the expertise and infrastructure to do so. 

First, every lab interested in a DTC strategy needs a consumer-facing platform that enables easy ordering, test tracking, and a HIPAA compliant, secure portal for physicians and patients to access the test results. While some labs may already have a portal for physicians to use, or a rudimentary patient-facing portal, a full tech-stack capability to optimize a DTC consumer marketing funnel, seamless integration to variety of mobile and contactless payment systems like Amazon Pay, or a screening questionnaire isn’t typically built into most LIMS, nor are LIMS designed to offer a full SaaS platform for non-CPOEs. In addition, no health-information backend is capable of working in today’s digital advertising environment to help labs drive DTC buyers to their websites.

Labs need a user-friendly platform for Direct-to-consumer selling

The direct-to-consumer testing market may have grown past infancy, but it’s by no means a mature market. There are limited tools and platforms available for labs, while at the same time, every business is thinking about entering this fast growing, profitable DTC revenue segment for labs that is projected to expand at a CAGR of 25.9% from 2021 to 2031 reported by Market Research firm Transparency Market Research. The winners of this online battle will need to be equipped with a technology solution that integrates into a digital platform that leverages digital marketing best practices to maximize conversion for its marketing efforts. In addition, labs will need to integrate the various elements of telehealth and telemedicine services.

This new revenue model starts with patients and consumers sitting at their house, ordering a test from the lab’s website. Consumers don’t want to drive to a laboratory or see a physician in person to authorize the order. According to a new survey conducted by Jones Lang LaSalle of over 4,000 US citizens, 38% of patients have received telehealth care this year, while over 70% of patients who have received virtual care would prefer to continue to receive care remotely if possible. And for physicians, they can authorize the test and access the results remotely via HIPAA compliant means. Beyond these ordering basics, labs also need logistical and inventory support to package, ship, and track test kits. 

Most independent laboratory directors and operators are good at running a testing lab. Expertise at coming up with a digital advertising campaign, dealing with supply chain logistics, and managing pick, pack, and ship and code an entire platform that ties all this together isn’t part of their training. That’s why any independent laboratory considering deploying a new direct-to-consumer testing strategy needs the right partner.

1health Direct-to-consumer solution fulfills Lab needs

Labs need a front-line support team that can support them as they embark on this market expansion. Today, most companies focus on doing what they do best, which is to run an efficient, independent laboratory. 1health is not just a software platform, but a conglomerate of a variety of support services that takes the direct-to-consumer game to the next level. 1health’s digital marketing, logistics, and telehealth support services help laboratory partners overcome the hurdles of starting a DTC program, and handle the challenges for all of their independent laboratory customers.

With 1health, any laboratory can have these capabilities on their own branded eCommerce site:

  • Lab test products available online, packaged in Branded Kits
  • Consumer-friendly ordering and physician approvals
  • Insurance information is collected, if required
  • Sample tracking
  • Product description and pricing management
  • Result notification, approvals, and payment processing
  • DTC data sent to their backend systems

Take a look at Vitagene, examples of 1health direct-to-consumer deployments.  One these beautiful, easy-to-use sites, the 1health solution includes:

  • Fully brand kits that meet the business’s brand guidelines 
  • Digital marketing and advertising leveraging best practices to drive website traffic
  • Consumer ordering and verification of necessary information
  • Required questionnaires which are integrated seamlessly into the process
  • Data sent automatically to a provider who will approve it, as needed
  • Kit tracking information that is provided to the consumer as well as to the labs
  • Easy-to-understand kit activation instructions designed for the end user

The end result is, when the consumer receives their kit, they’re instructed to activate it on the portal and make sure that the return tracking number is validated. They then take the test and they put it back in the mail, and 1health tracks it as it goes back to the lab.

As these steps are played out in the ordering process, 1health platform can send data to the  lab’s LIMS system to create an order with the kit ID, patient information, insurance information, and provider contact. The order is pushed through to the LIMS so laboratories can electronically access the order information, and assess the kit once it comes in.

A digital alert is created when the kit is on the way back to the originating lab, so each facility can plan their testing capacity accordingly. Reminders are set up, if UPS or FedEx delivered the kit back, and it hasn’t been accessioned in a predetermined amount of time, generally 5 hours.

Once the kit is accessioned, the customer is informed through the platform and shown every step of the sample processing. Once the results are finalized, they will receive an email and a text. With 1health providing a consumer-friendly process on the behalf of each individual lab, the test journey is transparent and trackable to the consumer. The platform provides an end-to-end service for laboratories to handle a consumer, taking them directly through a sales funnel and all the way through the test result process.

Take the guesswork out of DTC lab testing

1health has the experience of creating turnkey solutions for independent laboratories for their entire direct-to-consumer strategy. The entire patient journey is fully transparent to labs in the portal, from order entry, to tracking and logistics, to communications with providers and patients. Not only that, 1health offers services that ensure best practices in digital marketing to ensure each laboratory’s testing kits are seen by the most relevant customers, extending independent lab’s capability to service a wider consumer base across a larger potential geographical area.

In addition, the SaaS platform integrates with a variety of LIMS in a fully compatible format, ensure HIPAA security compliance in all aspect of the data transmission, and integrate with telehealth services to provide seamless operation in the ordering process to ensure each consumer enjoy the most comfortable and enjoyable process, from the comfort of their own home.

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