Quest Diagnostics makes lab data liquid with new smartphone app

By Brian Dolan
04:47 am

Gazelle - Quest Diagnostics iPhone app"Your body is mobile. Shouldn't your health information be, too?" That's the lead-off in the new promotional video for Quest Diagnostics smartphone app, Gazelle, which gives millions of Americans access to their lab results directly on their iPhone or BlackBerry. Gazelle users become the ones in control of their lab data and other personal health data, according to Quest. The smartphone application allows users to bring together lab results from their various care providers and enables the user to email or fax their results right from the app.

The app launch is actually a bigger deal than it may appear to be at first blush: Quest has not yet made this information available online. The lab company decided to go mobile first.

"Well, we started with a desktop version... but we scrapped it," Neil Desai, executive director of enterprise architecture at Quest Diagnostics and the lead architect of Gazelle, told MobiHealthNews in an interview ahead of the app's launch. Quest's upper-ups believed that the information should be mobile and that the desktop experience could come second.

"Lab results, personal health information, medical insurance information -- this is the type of information patients need when on-the-go and making decisions with their physician. It's more useful on a mobile phone," Quest Diagnostics senior vice president and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jon Cohen told MobiHealthNews.

With Gazelle Quest is also shining a light on patient data rights -- the app works differently depending on which state the user lives in. That's because only in 33 states and in the District of Columbia can a patient directly request their lab results. Those users can get their lab information sent to Gazelle directly. Users in other states -- including people like me who live in Massachusetts -- have to get permission from their physician (or whoever ordered the lab test) before Quest can send the information to the user's Gazelle app. Quest believes that direct access should be universal.

Do patients want this data? Quest Diagnostics believes they do.

The company receives some 1 million patient requests annually for lab data, which is substantial but still a tiny minority when you consider Quest's reach: On a typical day, the company performs tests for 550,000 patients across its more than 2,000 patient services centers. Quest Diagnostics serves approximately half of all physicians and hospitals in the United States, according to the company's site. That reach will also help the company market the Gazelle app and, in turn, patient access to lab data. There will, for example, be posters up in Quest's Patient Service Centers that announce the availability of the app.

Desai and Cohen said that Gazelle integrates with Quest's Care360 physician network, which they can access via the Web as well as through smartphone apps. More than 160,000 physicians are connected to Care360, according to Quest.

In the coming months Quest will launch Gazelle for Android devices and also integrate the application with other electronic healthcare apps, chronic disease management services, medical reminders and more. Desai said his group is currently working to open up Gazelle's API so that users can more easily integrate their patient information with other mobile health apps if they so choose.

More on Gazelle in the video below:


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