Austin, Texas-based EverlyWell, which provides a platform for consumers to order lab tests online, provide their samples and receive the results in an easily readable format, announced its official public launch at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, following a three-month beta period during which the company gained nearly 1,500 paying customers across 45 states.
The company, which was founded in 2015 and previously raised $2.5 million when it debuted its beta launch, works with four certified lab partners to provide at-home testing across eight different health areas – food sensitivity, thyroid, metabolism, women’s fertility, cholesterol and lipids, heavy metals and sleep and stress.
Users order the test online and provide samples of either blood, urine or saliva, send it back to the lab and receive easy-to-understand results on a web platform. Tests that require blood are done so with a fingerprick lancet to provide a few drops of blood to a lab using validated panels. The startup doesn’t claim to test for any viruses nor offer diagnoses for any condition; it just attempts to provide an evaluation for customers to take to their physician.
EverlyWell CEO and Founder Julia Cheek said she was inspired to create the system after undergoing a series of expensive, cumbersome tests of her own last year, only to finally receive results that were completely unreadable. Compounded with rising out of pocket costs and high deductibles in plans, Cheek though it was necessary for lab tests to be more accessible.
“The broken healthcare industry and rising out of pocket costs are forcing consumers to have to be more proactive about their health decisions,” Cheek said during TechCrunch Disrupt’s Startup Battlefield session. “But the consumer lab testing experience remains virtually untouched.”
Cheek said the consumer readiness is evident based on the popularity of tests such as 23andMe and activity and sleep tracking devices and apps.
“In the same way that consumer-ordered pregnancy tests, HIV tests and DNA tests have gone from non-existent to ubiquitous, so too should health and wellness tests,” she said.
EverlyWell’s tests range from $79 to $399, and some are covered by corporate wellness or telemedicine plans. The company is now in the process of lining up partnerships with payers and providers, and is looking to establish reimbursement strategies over the next six to 12 months as well as develop an app. While the platform was optimized for web usage, it does work on mobile devices, and EverlyWell reported some 70 percent of users purchase and access the program on their phones.
Dr. Murdoc Khaleghi, EverlyWell’s chief medical officer, said in addition to informing daily behaviors like diet, exercise and sleep, users should take the findings to their physician if possible. Since the tests aren’t trying to make diagnoses of specific, critical conditions but rather specialty tests that help health management, such as weight management hormones, food sensitivities and fertility hormones, the company isn’t on the hook for attempting to take the place of a stand-alone, doctor-ordered lab test.
“We encourage users to share, and for those who are already using certain consumer-facing devices like sleep or activity trackers, we’ve found that those patients are already bringing information to their physician, and we’re trying to increase quality and depth of that information by offering tests that can’t really do any harm,” Khaleghi said.