How to Set Up an At-Home Diagnostic Testing Platform

At-Home Diagnostic Testing

How to Set Up an At-Home Diagnostic Testing Platform

Ash Wellness

At-home diagnostics is a type of remote care service that screens patients for contagious diseases, chronic health issues, certain types of cancers, STIs, and other conditions. The remote care flow allows providers to send diagnostic kits home for patients to self-collect samples and return them via mail to a telemedicine lab. While these programs are difficult to build in-house, it is possible with the right tools and connections.

We cover essential steps to launch your own remote diagnostics platform, starting with selecting the right lab partner. This is your complete guide to building a comprehensive telehealth delivery platform from experts in the field. Digital health companies, hospitals, payers and other established healthcare providers need to consider medical provider review, operations, kit design, and integration with a virtual telehealth platform. Our space is a highly complicated one, but our goal here is to transform some of the insider jargon and knowledge into usable next steps for your business.  

1. Partner with a lab 

Start by selecting a telemedicine lab or group of labs to partner with, and keep the following questions in mind. Can this lab process every type of diagnostic test my business offers? Do we need to partner with more than one lab in order to offer a full panel of the relevant at-home tests? What states can this lab operate in? Many platforms use more than one lab to accommodate greater volume from a national at-home testing program. When labs go down in an emergency, it is also useful to have multiple labs available to process incoming kits.

Consider these three main lab set-ups: 

  1. HL7: This is the old school industry standard. Integrating with a lab using HL7 requires setting up a secure VPN connection to submit and receive orders. These labs transmit data in slightly different ways, so many companies hire an outsourced IT vendor that the lab uses to make sense of reports. They’re also only unidirectional or bi-directional, which makes it difficult to incorporate multiple touch points.    
  2. SFTP: These labs are quick to set up, but difficult to scale. Labs that integrate via SFTP create a folder on a secure server where users manually check results. These labs also have their own data requirements, and there is no standardized way to access the data.  Some labs use CSV, while others drop XML files, etc. 
  3. API: Ash Wellness integrates with labs that use HL7 and SFTP and transforms them into API, considered the gold standard in engineering. API integration allows two systems to ‘talk’ to one another. These types of labs are quick to scale, produce fast results, and offer multi-directional touch points for more comprehensive telehealth care. 

Lab selection can feel confusing, especially when companies start to process kits at scale. If you partner with Ash Wellness, we organize the API lab coordination and set up so you can focus on serving your patients.

2. Set up medical provider review 

In order to offer remote testing to patients, companies need a medical provider to confirm that all tests are appropriate. This means hiring a doctor or clinician to assess and approve tests. You need to recruit and hire physicians in every state your patients are located in. Certain states impose specific requirements. In New York, for example, a patient-provider relationship is necessary to authorize an at-home diagnostic test. 

When you partner with a company like Ash Wellness, we connect you with our network of licensed physicians in all 50 states to quickly scale your business. Our provider of record API facilitates swift provider approval, enhances customer interaction, identifies abnormal results, and communicates with customers regarding sensitive test outcomes. 

3. Build out operations  

To distribute kits, your business should also build out its operations and fulfillment network. How do you plan to get kits into the hands of patients? Procure collection devices? What about HIPAA compliance? Many states have their own compliance and reporting requirements. Are your labs obligated to report certain results, including, for example, at-home STI test results? 

Operations oversees warehouses, labs, distribution services, and may overlap with Client Success departments. An in-house team should include, at a minimum, at Head of Operations and Lab Network Manager, as well as a Head of Client Success and Patient Experience Manager to handle patient problems that intersect with Operations. This could include issues like kit delays, lost kits, or inaccurate results from outdated reference ranges. 

If the process of building out an operations system feels overwhelming, consider bringing on a partner. In addition to our patient portal and basic test kits, Ash Wellness offers an operations distribution for our clients. We manage all compliance and fulfillment requirements. 

4. Kit your collection devices 

Next, consider the test kit itself. There are many types of remote tests, and those tests require certain collection devices. Dried blood spot cards, for example, are a specialized filter paper card used for collecting and storing small samples of blood. It typically consists of a piece of absorbent filter paper treated to preserve the integrity of the blood sample. Blood is obtained by pricking a finger or heel with a lancet, and then the droplets of blood are applied onto the designated areas of the card. They are used for STI tests, infectious disease screening, genetic testing, and more. 

Companies also need to consider how their packaging should look, including the physical kits and instructions and collection videos. Poorly worded instructions can create problems down the line, such as high rejection rates at the lab. Ash Wellness builds kits with high-quality and appropriate collection devices. We also offer white-label design templates for easy branding.   

5. Integrate a virtual telehealth platform 

The final key element to setting up an at-home diagnostic testing platform for remote care is building a virtual telehealth platform. These online portals allow patients to place orders, register their kits, access educational or instructional materials, view test results, and interact with your business. This will require a team of in-house engineers to develop and maintain.  It is imperative that your technology offer top-rate security infrastructure to protect private data and patient medical records.  

Partner with Ash Wellness for better at-home diagnostics

Putting together a solid at-home diagnostics testing platform for remote care is no easy task, but you don’t have to go at it alone. Ash Wellness helps businesses set up at-home diagnostic testing for their communities. We offer 150+ types of diagnostic tests, including those that screen for HbA1c levels, STIs, colorectal cancer, and lead. Our national network of CLIA/CAP certified labs, provider of record API, white-labeled kitting capabilities, and digital tools make it easy for clients to launch new programs in a matter of weeks.

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