LabCorp Wants To Skip Doctors, Sell Blood Tests Direct To Consumers

When your doctor wants to find out more about what’s going on inside your body, she orders lab tests, sending you down the street or down the hall to have someone extract your bodily fluids and perform tests on them. Laboratory Corp. of America, known on your medical bills as LabCorp, thinks that Americans want to order these tests themselves and pay for them with cash. Do they?

This is already a growing segment of the medical testing industry. There are companies where you can order up your own blood tests directly, visiting a local lab–the same one your doctor might send you to–and receiving the results confidentially in the mail or in an online dashboard. For example, you can pay WellnessFX $988 and have 18 tubes of blood drawn, which will get you “VIP-level access to every biomarker [they] offer,” checking everything from your cholesterol and thyroid levels to your reproductive hormones.

LabCorp wants a piece of the direct-to-consumer lab test action. “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 company’s CEO, David King, explained to Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

What he’s talking about is that LabCorp already provides lab services for some of the companies that sell tests to consumers, and now they’ll be getting in the direct lab testing business themselves. They already offer a portal where patients can access the results of tests that their doctor ordered: allowing patients to order their own tests online simply removes a step from that process. What the company hopes to do is partner with a drugstore chain, something that competitor Quest Diagnostics tried in the past.

It could be that the Quantified Self movement and increased availability of health information online could make more people interested in these services than in the past…but they could also draw conclusions from these blood tests that an actual medical professional wouldn’t necessarily agree with.

Recently, businessman Mark Cuban posted a series of tweets (which have since been deleted) where he recommended that all people have a full panel of health-screening blood tests every three months. The problem, as actual doctors and other experts pointed out, is that such testing is expensive and likely to result in scary false positives, or people being medicated for temporary fluctuations in how their bodies function. If frequent screening tests are good, that doesn’t mean that even more frequent screening tests are necessarily better for your health.

The Doctor Is Out: LabCorp to Let Consumers Order Own Tests [Bloomberg News]

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