The pandemic turned the world upside down. Life and business as we know them were forced to change in an instant. Healthcare, in particular, had to pivot quickly as hospitals were being filled with COVID patients leaving little room for preventative care. That sudden chance essentially created a new category of at-home wellness. And it’s not just about telemedicine – which was great to connect with doctors and not fall behind on all your health checks – but lab work, testing, and other in-office essential services just couldn’t happen. So doctors turned into entrepreneurs and created a solution.
Approximately 41% of U.S. adults avoided routine medical care during the pandemic–and while that number is slowly rising, the drop in medical care was so steep, experts say, “there no way it could not have been harmful.” In fact, one skipped appt might seem minor, but it’s already shown to have significant repercussions, including a rise in deaths from heart disease and a looming wave of issues due to delayed diagnoses of common chronic diseases.
While doctors pivoted to telehealth appointments, with approximately 95% offering telehealth support, testing, screeners, and lab work were largely halted. The CDC reported a drop in blood pressure recorded, cholesterol assessments, and more prompting leading specialists to launch the next phase in the evolution of preventative care.
Pharmaceutical delivery companies like CourMed began working with community pharmacies to provide a concierge healthcare delivery experience to patients in the comfort of their homes. Based on demand from customers and providers, the company expanded delivery services to include COVID-19 vaccines, monoclonal antibodies, IV vitamin therapy, and more.
Doctors also decided to take the lead in innovating with at-home access to testing. These provided unprecedented accessibility and affordability to test, screen, diagnose and allow patients to facilitate testing previously only available in doctors’ offices – transforming preventative care forever.
For example, San Diego-based dentist Dr. Tina Saw, DDS, saw oral health declining during the pandemic and created the Oral Genome Kit. The at-home dental saliva testing dental wellness testing kit measures acidity, bacteria, red and white blood cells, halitosis, and more to see if you have any bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease. You’re then given a customized plan for dental wellness and preventative measures.
“Being in a high aerosol environment, the pandemic forced many dental practices to close for several months,” Dr. Saw told me. “Dental problems that were left untreated only caused pain, and it was difficult for dentists to treat patients when their offices were closed. In addition, new studies linking periodontitis (gum disease) and COVID-19 complications only emphasized the need to focus on prevention and the greater need for at-home wellness kits such as Oral Genome to prevent future pain and discomfort.”
NYC-based dual board-certified doctor in internal and obesity medicine Dr. Alexandra Sowa also created the SoWell Weight Biology Kit. It is the first and only at-home diagnostic kit to offer a comprehensive evaluation of biological factors –such as fasting insulin, fasting glucose, thyroid-stimulating hormone, and more–that make it difficult for people to manage their weight. With the kit, consumers can gain a deep understanding of their bodies. It can help detect potential chronic illnesses such as metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes, and type II diabetes early without setting foot in a doctor’s office.
“For far too long, traditional medicine has siloed the individual from their care making it incredibly difficult to be part of the decision-making surrounding testing and management and oftentimes impossible to gain access to their data,” said Sowa. “At-home testing shifts the dynamic, allowing users to become the drivers their own health journey.”