There's all sorts of new initiatives by the major reference labs, Quest and LabCorp, that alter some of their product offerings. This comes after decades of little or no change in how they operated. All of this is prompted, of course, by web technology. The latest story is HealthTap and its affiliation with Quest Diagnostics (see: HealthTap teams with Quest Diagnostics to let its virtual doctors order lab tests). Below is an excerpt from the article:
HealthTap, a startup enabling patients and doctors to connect via the Internet for consultations and care, is adding a significant weapon to the arsenal it already provides its physicians: lab tests.The Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup is partnering with Quest Diagnostics..., one of the largest networks of medical lab test providers in the U.S. Through the partnership,...HealthTap’s physicians will be able to directly prescribe any lab test offered by Quest to patients. The patients can then schedule at the location and time that best fits their needs. The test results will also be automatically sent to the doctor for review, as well as to the patient. Quest will invoice the patient’s health insurance provider. Founded in 2010, HealthTap now works with more than 71,000 licensed physicians in the U.S., and lets patients connect with doctors via desktop computers or mobile devices 24 hours a day. HealthTap offers both a community and network of doctors patients can turn to to ask questions about symptoms or concerns for a monthly fee, and a service that lets them remotely connect with their own doctors for a pay-per-visit fee. So far, doctors have been able to provide consultations as well as prescribe medicine remotely to patients. Now, it will have access to Quest’s 2,200 patient service centers....HealthTap chief health officer Dr. Jay Wohlgemuth ...was previously a senior vice president at Quest.
It's interesting that the chief medical officer of HealthTap, Dr. Jay Wohlgemuth, was previously a senior VP at Quest. I am sure that this helped to pave the way for this opportunity for lab testing to accompany physician e-consultations. Recall in a previous note that LabCorp is now allowing consumers to order lab tests for themselves on the web and then report to the LabCorp patient service centers for their blood draws (see: LabCorp to Offer Direct Access Lab Testing (DAT) to Consumers). In this latter case, the test results are returned to the consumer. I doubt if heath insurance will cover the cost of such testing. Cleveland Clinic is also offering e-consultations to all Ohio residents at a reported cost of $49 (see: Cleveland Clinic Launches Web Site to Offer Physician Visits to Ohio Residents).
I have been asking my physician friends who work in an ambulatory care setting what percentage of their patient visits could be accomplished electronically with, say, the patient sitting at home with an iPhone. Such visits, of course, would not require physical examination. Practical examples of such e-visits would include follow-ups with review of drug dosages and even new prescriptions that could be generated electronically. I think that this percentage is at least 50%. A patient's PCP at Cleveland Clinic would have access to a patient's longitudinal EHR record. The HealthTap physicians would generally be working without such documentation. It's theoretically possible, of course, for a patient to develop a long term relationship with a HealthTap physician with the accompanying documentation available for these visits.