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With support from Washington bolstering testing initiatives alongside vaccinations, companies like inHealth Life Sciences have seen a year of unprecedented growth continue to ramp up.
“It’s been a year where the theme has been to rapidly adapt, accelerate solutions, and create user optimized experiences,” says Trent McCallson, CEO of inHealth. “Our business model was designed to help solve the opioid crisis, little did we know, we’d be pivoting from an epidemic to a global pandemic. Our culture of innovation and fearless commitment towards patient well-being lead us straight to the frontlines.”
As the public reeled from the early onslaught of the spreading coronavirus, inHealth worked alongside close colleagues in the laboratory science world to develop a simple, easy to use, saliva based COVID test. Its sole purpose was to bring the most accurate results science could offer, all with just a few milliliters of saliva. The outcome was a non-invasive test administered (under observation) by patients themselves and using simple supplies from outside of the traditional supply chain. inHealth eliminated logistical problems like ice packed parcels, untestable dried out nasal swabs, and special specimen storage requirements. inHealth's innovation was streamlined, practical, saved millions of articles of PPE, and reduced the need for chemical reagents used for all other saliva and nasal pharyngeal RT-qPCR tests.
“What our team was able to develop so quickly, is truly incredible,” says Tony Michuda, CSO of inHealth. “Dr. Keil’s work, along with the rest of our incredible colleagues and team at our MSU based laboratory, gave us the unique ability to provide patients across the country with the high reliability of a PCR test, coupled with a non-invasive collection method.”
For inHealth, the method was only the beginning. With a simple contactless collection method, Michuda had an idea.
“I saw these massive drive thru lines on tv with people waiting hours for a COVID test. What hit me was the crucial fault in the nasal swab method – each collector could only test one patient at a time. Trent’s an engineering marvel in process design and software development, so we came up with our own back end programming that made this idea a reality. We could now register patients quickly, collect their insurance info (eliminating the patient cost burden), and create a workflow that exponentially made the drive thru process faster.”
Their idea worked.
For months, sometimes an hour before they were open, lines at inHealth’s first drive thru site in the suburbs of Chicago snaked through a massive 800 car parking lot at a local church. Almost symphonically, cars would process through, often in under a minute’s time, and be ushered to a parking spot to submit their samples. A push of your hazard lights summoned a runner with a collection bin and off you went, having never come in contact with anyone or anything, having to leave your car, or as inHealth famously advertised “never having to pause your podcast.”
This simple idea has grown to multiple state sites run by the company and several more in affiliate partnerships with their health system clients, assisted living centers, and medical practices. They also offer a corporate testing package for employers looking to employees coming back to the office, as well as essential employees who have worked through the pandemic.
So what’s next for the company? To McCallson and Michuda it’s simple – growth.
“To better serve our growing west coast market, including Hawaii, we are expanding our offices and laboratory footprint to Las Vegas, Nevada,” says McCallson. “We have said since day one, we built this company because we are obsessed with patient experience. Our new regional presence out west, gives us the ability to expand our throughput and continue to fulfill this promise. We are excited for what the future holds.”
For a young company, many would hope to just ride out the coronavirus storm relatively unscathed, but for inHealth it became an opportunity to live out their mission and thrive. Stopping by any of their test sites one can quickly realize, they’ve done just that.