- LabCorp, the country's largest diagnostic company, will soon allow customers to order certain clinical tests without a doctor's order.
- Customers can go online to order and pay for cholesterol readings, thyroid tests and other bloodwork, visit a service center to get a blood draw, then view their results online. LabCorp did not reveal exactly which tests it will offer or what the service will consumers.
- LabCorp already does back-office lab work for other companies that allow patients to order tests without physician permission. "It's a growth opportunity for us," LabCorp CEO David King told Bloomberg. "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."
According to Bloomberg, LabCorp is exploring a partnership with a drugstore chain, something Quest Diagnostics tried and ultimately gave up. This raises the question of price point: Theranos offers an affordable diagnostic kit at some Walgreens locations that it says evaluates lipid panels, HIV status and more from just a few drops of blood. As Theranos gains a foothold, consumers are going to start balking at expensive lab tests.
Currently, ten states (including Arizona until July) allow consumers limited access to testing without a provider's authorization. Twenty-seven states plus D.C. allow consumers to order tests directly, and 13 states prohibit testing entirely without a physician order, according to Theranos.
Expect to hear more about this, as consumers start to demand more control over their health—and some providers hesitate. Mark Cuban recently fired off a Twitter missive stating that those that can afford it should get quarterly bloodwork to establish a "baseline of your own personal health." Industry experts shot back that such testing could produce dangerous outcomes for patients. "More testing leads to more false positives and incidental findings (abnormalities that don't pose a risk to your actual health)," wrote Charles Ornstein in ProPublica. "That leads to a higher probability of treatment. And treatment carries side effects."