Tossing out testing’s status quo: 3 ways we’re disrupting the lab industry

By Gary Frazier

Even before the COVID-19 crisis, healthcare in our country needed to change. The system’s centrality around insurance muddied the landscape for everyone, limiting patients’ options for where to receive care and forcing providers to overcharge. And those without insurance were left to shoulder those elevated prices themselves.

The system’s flaws became more pronounced when the coronavirus entered the picture. Right as many Americans were losing their jobs (their only means of receiving health insurance), COVID-19 testing became essential. Newly unemployed people effectively lost their only means of getting quality testing right when they needed that testing the most. Even those with insurance scrambled to find PCR testing appointments and waited up to 10 days for test results, as samples could only be processed at a few large, faraway laboratories.

As a longtime healthcare entrepreneur, I’m always looking for ways to make quality care more accessible and affordable for those who need it. My previous venture, OM Healthcare, was created to empower customers through decentralized, non-insurance-dependent healthcare. Through the lens of that goal, I saw that the lab testing space would be more effective if its services were offered as a streamlined, direct-purchase product.

The pandemic pushed us at OM Healthcare to kickstart our vision of open market, consumer-focused medicine by meeting the rapidly escalating need for access to testing. Just like Amazon started small with books, we began our mission to disrupt healthcare by joining the fight against COVID.

Worksite Labs, with OM Healthcare’s same mission at heart, sprang directly from that need. Now, as we look back over the past year, we’re humbled at the sight of an industry forever altered by our hard work. Here’s how Worksite Labs has disrupted the testing landscape – for the benefit of everyone involved:

1. Our business model

The Worksite Labs business model avoids the cumbersome economy of scale that burdens other testing providers based out of large warehouses. We’ve decentralized the process by investing in portable lab equipment, allowing us to bring reliable, accurate testing wherever the need may be.

This model results in unparalleled velocity with both laboratory setup and result turnaround times. We can stand up a certified laboratory focused on any pathogen (not just COVID-19 — more on that later) anywhere in the world within 30 to 60 days. By collecting and processing samples right on site (meaning we don’t add in time to transport – and potentially lose – samples), we guarantee results in 24 hours or less.

Travelers find our speedy processing time priceless. In fact, it was elemental to helping Hawaiian Airlines get Hawaii air travel back on track, and it’s helped many customers meet health requirements before visiting or returned home to international countries. 

2. Our versatile accommodations

Worksite Labs has empowered and uplifted nearly 600,000 customers through our economic flexibility, diverse staff and technological bridge-building. We prioritize meeting people where they are, setting an example for the industry and impacting Americans from all walks of life in the process.

While we do accept many forms of insurance, we pride ourselves on the lowest-cost, direct-purchase PCR testing available. Our $90 standard tests, along with convenient locations nationwide, affords millions of Americans access to the testing they need to keep things moving in their lives. Further, our community sites in Brooklyn and South Los Angeles provide testing – and bilingual health services – for some of our country’s most vulnerable populations, free of charge.

There’s little good in providing consumers a one-way avenue to essential health services if they have trouble purchasing the treatment they need. That’s where our user-friendly scheduling platform comes in. Our comprehensive yet simple user interface enables customers to schedule and pay for a test online in minutes without the hassle of looping in their insurance information. (International travelers have the added perk of our Destination Guide, which provides up-to-date info on COVID restrictions at their destination.)

To find a Black-owned, largely POC-run business in healthcare is quite uncommon, but our impactful diversity extends beyond the Worksite Labs leadership team. By hiring locals from various cultural and economic backgrounds as our customer-facing field staff, we earn the trust of our diverse customer base. If you see yourself in the service you receive, you’re more easily put at ease — a crucial step when caring for something as personal as someone’s health.

3. Our eyes on the future

Another benefit of our business model is how adaptable we can be to whatever unexpected turn COVID-19 — or world health in general — takes next. Should a new, more aggressive coronavirus variant or an entirely different pathogen emerge, we can switch gears and accommodate customers’ changing needs with unparalleled dexterity.

As the pandemic has developed over the last 20 months or so, we’ve managed to anticipate where and when testing would be most needed. This attentive, resourceful attitude has enabled us to offer our services to schools, large event organizers and other customers as their need for testing has increased.

Several Worksite Labs staffers and I recently returned from an African country that is still dealing with pathogens we might consider “old world” — H.I.V., tuberculosis and the like. For countries with such limited infrastructure and availability of care, portable testing assays and modular processing labs can prove life-changing and lifesaving. We hope to leverage our dynamic company structure to bring testing services overseas and offer relief from long-standing diseases to those who desperately need it.

COVID-19 threw our country more curveballs during this past year than we ever could have anticipated. But through it all, we’re proud to have provided the fast, accurate and convenient testing America needed (and still needs) to weather this storm. I’m eager to see what challenges and triumphs await us in the year to come, and I hope you’ll be there to see how Worksite Labs disrupts the industry next.

Gary Frazier is the CEO of Worksite Labs.

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