Access to primary care clinics, laboratory testing facilities, and other physical healthcare sites have continued to shrink, all while demand for these services continue to rise. For example, while infection rates for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are reaching all time highs, state and budget cuts are forcing testing clinics to close.
“Our ability to prevent STD’s is only as strong as the public health infrastructure to support it” says Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention at the CDC.
This is yet another example of the healthcare system failing to provide basic needs at a time where demands for healthcare services only continues to rise. According to the physician search firm Merritt Hawkins “Some 65 million people live in what’s essentially a primary care desert”. This means basic services like checkups, blood work, or x-ray services are unreasonably difficult to access for the average American.
Similar to the Canadian healthcare system, we are moving towards a situation where only the most sick will be treated first, leaving many to wait weeks or even months to be seen. Patients will eventually need to take their health into their own hands and seek treatment in non-traditional ways.
One of the biggest reasons customers use MYLABFAX's laboratory services is because they either A) live too far from their primary care or specialist’s office for basic blood tests, or B) are being denied specific tests, either because their insurance won't cover them, or because of frustration in dealing with a biased physician. An example of the latter is a complaint one of our clinic’s patients had after seeing his endocrinologist:
“I went into see my endocrinologist last week and explained to her how I had formally used steroids and was really pleased with the benefits I was getting in terms of healing faster, improvement of my mood and sleep. Since I was approaching 50 years old I wanted to see what my options were to getting on TRT. I thought I was doing the right thing by letting someone who you’d think wouldn’t judge but instead was treated to a 30-minute lecture about the dangers of abusing steroids and how I could risk getting addicted. Mind you, it was a two hour round trip to see her.”
Not surprisingly, businesses are to springing up to meet the increasing demand of people requesting blood tests without the hassle. An example could be seen in the online laboratory testing model, where patients can order blood tests directly through a website without having to see a doctor first, and, more often than not, pay significantly less than they would if they went through insurance.
Anyone who doubts the growing demand for blood testing can simply examine the New York Times article showing how since 2010, Direct Access Testing (DAT) has grown from a quiet $15 million a year business to a booming $131 million a year industry.
Money aside, the industry's growth is a sign that people are tired of jumping through traditional, tedious hoops to get what they need, only to be denied access or treated like a child. Removing barriers and increasing options for people to access their health services should be the main goal at a time when more regions are finding themselves short on physicians and other healthcare staff.
Heading into the future, the U.S will need to find atypical ways of easing the strain currently placed on the health system. MYLABFAX's vision is to be part of the solution by providing people with the access to the blood tests they need, without the hassle of long road trips, or dealing with insurance.