The pandemic, and the fast, easy diagnostic testing that has become commonplace as a result, has transformed how we care for ourselves, as people are taking greater control of their personal health and wellbeing. According to a recent study by NielsenIQ, 48% of global consumers regularly make proactive health and wellness choices, and are driving growth in the over-the-counter home diagnostics market.
The Nielsen study also indicates the use of at-home diagnostics is already contributing to the evolution of healthcare. As consumers can test more often for more issues, they’re able to receive faster diagnoses, make informed choices and better manage their overall health.
Diagnostic tests also provide benefits to clinicians and healthcare providers, who can more easily screen patients and identify potential health issues earlier, then work with patients to develop proper treatment plans.
“The pandemic accelerated a reliance on self-care,” says Marty Esarte, vice president, owned brands at Walgreens. “People are taking greater ownership of their health, and home diagnostic testing is an increasingly important way for them to do that.”
As a healthcare leader, Walgreens is striving to make it easier for its customers to manage their health by introducing 11 new Walgreens brand at-home diagnostic lab tests across categories of sexual health, allergies and wellness. Priced between $60 and $199, the tests allow for discreet and reliable testing with results processed through a certified lab, and the unique benefit of providing access to a post-test tele-consult with a physician to discuss results.
Expanding on at-home testing
The at-home kits provide a means for people to access testing without a copay, appointments or fees for doctor’s office visits, or even insurance. The only cost is the initial out-of-pocket price of the test at the store. For those with FSA or HSA dollars, the tests are an eligible expense.
“At-home testing is nothing new to Walgreens,” says Jeff Fuller, Walgreens senior owned brands commercialization manager. “For years, people have turned to Walgreens for at-home diagnostic tests for pregnancy and A1C because of the high level of trust they have in the Walgreens brand and the guidance they receive from our pharmacists, so this is just a natural expansion of a product line customers expect to find at our stores.”
The 11 new Walgreens tests, which all contain the Walgreens Pharmacist Approved seal, include:
- Men’s Health
- STD Basics
- STD Complete
- Diabetes Risk Factor
- Thyroid Function
- Vitamin D
- Indoor/Outdoor Allergy
- Food Sensitivity
The new line of Walgreens brand at-home diagnostic lab tests are the only testing kits on the market that include a post-results physician telemedicine consult as part of the cost of the test. Most other tests require you to purchase the test, then charge an additional fee if you want a consultation.
The Walgreens testing difference
“Providing physician telehealth consultations with our owned brand test kits is the direction we see healthcare moving, offering customers different options to receive important health information,” says Fuller. “Once people receive their results they often have questions, so connecting them to a healthcare professional to discuss the results live is a really valuable service for patients, particularly for some types of tests like STDs that may require greater levels of discretion.”
The process to get from purchase to results is simple. First, visit a Walgreens store, go to the Health Testing section and find the test that fits your needs. Bring it to the register, and once the barcode has been scanned the test becomes activated (much like a gift card) with a unique identifier that only the purchaser can use to get the results.
How does it work?
Walgreens is partnering with myLab Box, which works with only certified labs to process tests, so first, log into the myLab Box website to register your test using your unique identifier. Once you’re ready to take the test, follow the instructions in the box by collecting your sample—either via urine, blood or saliva, depending on the test—put it in the prepaid mailer and send it to myLab Box. You’ll receive your lab-certified results via email or by logging into your account within one to five days. If you’ve gotten a positive result, or you’ve gotten a result you don’t understand, you can speak with a physician, who will walk you through the result and talk about next steps. The physician can even prescribe the medication to address your condition and have it directed toward the pharmacy where you want to pick up the order.
“Convenience and immediacy have become customer expectations over the last few years when it comes to knowing more about their health,” says Fuller. “Now, they can walk into a Walgreens and be able to buy a reliable test for a range of routine care, then get results back in a few days and speak with a physician if necessary. We believe this is the wave of the future for better health.”
These tests are currently available only at select Walgreens stores and not online. Test availability will vary by store.