Not long ago, LabCorp started offering consumers the opportunity to order and administer some 90 different lab tests for themselves. Now comes word that Amazon is looking for a way to get into the home diagnostics business; according to CNBC, the company recently tried, but failed, to acquire a diagnostic start-up called Confer Health. Given Amazon’s ability to reach patients at home 24 hours a day, it stands to reason that a successful entry into the market would alter the consumer health landscape considerably. The question then becomes, how will this affect the existing marketplace, especially urgent care? As always, the likely answer is “that depends”—both on how comfortable consumers are in taking on that responsibility, and on how urgent care in general reacts. Remember, patients don’t just visit for a diagnosis; they need treatment when indicated, as well as counseling. Seen in the most positive light, patients coming in with a verified, accurate diagnosis could introduce new efficiencies and improve patient flow. On the other hand, of course, are self-limiting conditions that would not require on-site care from a professional. If history is any indication, the more forward-thinking urgent care operators will find a way to incorporate new patient options in such a way that they become an opportunity more than a disruption.
Are Emerging Home Testing Options ‘Disruptive’—or a New Opportunity for Urgent Care?