What is on-demand testing and how does it work?
On-demand testing (ODT), also known as direct-to-consumer (DTC) or direct-access testing (DAT), is laboratory testing that does not require a physician's order and is made available to the general public at a reduced price. At Bryan Medical Center, we developed a very streamlined ODT process where consumers can order a test and pay online prior to the sample collection. Their results are then provided through MyChart, an online personal health information platform, so the customer receives results as soon as a medical laboratory technician or medical laboratory scientist releases them.
How are you able to keep ODT costs low?
ODT does not require registration, billing, or scheduling, which significantly cuts overhead costs. In addition, with this type of testing, we're collecting “real” dollars upfront, rather than collecting cents on the dollar, like from insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid, so we have very little added costs on top of our cost to perform the test.
What successes have you had from offering ODT?
We have had several successes, but the one we're most proud of is our ability to provide testing for our community members with little to no healthcare insurance, those with high deductibles, as well as those who can't get in to see their primary care provider or require regular testing. During the pandemic, there were times when physician offices were bombarded with patients seeking care for COVID-19, flu, and other respiratory illnesses. During this time, we were able to help providers by performing testing for their patients prior to an appointment. We have also brought thousands of new patients into the Bryan Health System through ODT.
What would you recommend to other hospitals looking to implement this service?
First, make sure DTC/DAT is legal in your state. Second, develop a business plan and identify the resources you will need versus the resources that are readily available. We worked with several other departments to implement ODT. One of those departments was Advancement; they were key for marketing and setting up our payment service. Third, collaborate with your local providers to develop an appropriate test menu to provide a service that will benefit both providers and their patients. Lastly, make the ODT process simple, convenient, and streamlined. Most of our ODT users tout the convenience and quick turnaround of our services, as well as the friendliness and care of our frontline staff.