At-home coronavirus testing may be the key to EverlyWell’s future growth

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Apr 14, 2020

Amid all the chaos the coronavirus has unleashed on the planet, EverlyWell, a company we highlighted in our Innovators Worth Watching series back in October, has seized the opportunity to become an invaluable asset in fighting the pandemic, while also significantly expanding its customer base.

EverlyWell provides at-home health and wellness testing by working with a network of professionally-accredited partner labs to provide and analyze testing kits, and send results straight to the consumers’ phones. The majority of EverlyWell’s tests serve as a preventative step for proactive healthcare management (such as a lipid panel, cholesterol check, and blood sugar). So far, its few ventures into tests for specific illnesses have centered around chronic illnesses. 

In our original piece, we determined that EverlyWell’s at-home test kits had disruptive potential based on our six-question model. One of the questions we use to assess disruptive potential looks at the company’s ability to “move upmarket” or increase profitability. In our original analysis, we noted that EverlyWell intended to increase its profitability through scaling, both by expanding its in-store retail partnerships, and by eventually expanding into states that currently prevent the sale of at-home lab testing. Now, however, EverlyWell has discovered a new avenue to scale—by expanding its offerings to address a specific health crisis.  

On March 18, EverlyWell announced its plan to distribute at-home testing kits for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Even in the face of a restricted timeline, EverlyWell has delivered, and delivered fast.

Because its existing network of partner laboratories is already designed to quickly develop testing and diagnostic capacity, the innovative company was able to develop testing for COVID-19 in mere days. Due to the extreme shortage of tests available nationwide, EverlyWell is restricting first access to their tests to healthcare companies whose workers are on the front lines of the pandemic. Since April 10, it has joined forces with hospitals, health clinics, nursing homes and government agencies to provide thousands of tests to healthcare workers, seniors, and other high-risk patients across the country. 

Once access is expanded to the general public, tests will be priced to solely cover development costs, and will be fully reimbursable by a Health Savings Account or a Flexible Spending Account. Interested parties will be screened and approved by EverlyWell’s network of telehealth physicians, but for $135 dollars will be tested in the safety of their own homes. 

Regardless of when the tests roll out to the general public, EverlyWell is beginning to climb upmarket—by developing an even broader network of partnerships to potentially leverage as it seeks to grow in size. In the future, EverlyWell could call on this network of partners to deploy tests for a wide range of health and wellness-related issues. 

Significantly, it also shows potential to further climb upmarket by developing testing for acute illnesses. EverlyWell’s rapid response to the coronavirus demonstrates that it could develop at-home kits for other acute illnesses that use a similar sample collection process to COVID-19 (like the flu) or that can be tested through dried blood spot testing, for which they already have the technology. This could have massive appeal to consumers who are sick and unable (or unwilling) to go to the doctor’s office, and would prefer to stay home unless absolutely necessary.

Everlywell has undoubtedly demonstrated the value of at-home testing. For highly contagious diseases like COVID-19, it protects the community by keeping potentially sick people home. But it may also serve another important function: empowering people who lack access to healthcare with medical information. A similar model (not as wide scale, of course) could be deployed for any number of acute illnesses, such as the flu, bronchitis, or pneumonia. And the burgeoning partnerships coming from the dissemination of COVID-19 tests are ones that, ideally, EverlyWell can rely on far beyond this pandemic. Beyond coronavirus, its model to provide a greater number of tests in the comfort of home may significantly increase access to healthcare.

Jessica is a research associate at the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, where she focuses on business model innovation in healthcare, including new approaches to population health management and person-centered care delivery.