The pandemic provided an unprecedented growth opportunity in diagnostic testing.
In fact, Labcorp, one of the leading testing companies in the country, now has four times the capacity for COVID-19 testing than current demand. "We'll continue to watch the cases. If they go up, we'll increase our capacity again. We can scale quickly now so we'll be prepared for whatever we need to do," Schechter said.
At-home testing boom
Labcorp is looking at its potential stake in what could be an $8.5 billion market by 2030. But Schechter thinks the market is still nascent. "COVID has changed things a bit," he said. “A lot of employers are much more distributed now than they were before. So we have to find ways to interact with them as opposed to going on site.”
There are other changes as well. Prior to the pandemic, people and companies only wanted highly-accurate tests, which took a day or more to reveal results. They also only wanted tests that were covered by insurance. But that changed as consumers and businesses looked for immediate, albeit less accurate, readings at any price.
"I don't think that (will be) true in the future," Schechter said, noting he's waiting for the current market to "be defined and determined."
Meanwhile, Schechter said there were important lessons learned from the at-home testing push. In particular, the distribution of tests wasn't—and isn't—always equitable.
Ideally, tests in general are viewed as a way to help lower costs of care because of their use in preventative care, early detection and helping with diagnoses. And they typically don't come with very high costs.
But, Schechter noted, "We are spending more on health care today than we were prior to COVID, and those costs are increasing."
Even so, equitable access to testing became problematic during the pandemic. Despite statistics touted by the White House (and testing companies like Labcorp) about the massive scale of testing, many experts say the U.S. fell short on equity. And at-home tests, pre-pandemic, was a market dominated by smaller players and startups.
"To be honest, there were some things we thought we were doing great, when it came to health equity, and through COVID we learned a lot," Schechter said.
For example, the company thought sending kits to people's homes could help alleviate the burden to access burden, but it became acutely aware of a health care problem that plagues the health services segment in general — homelessness.
“There’s a lot of people in this country who don’t have homes ... so there was no place to send the kits," Shechter said.
That's why, he added, “there’s still more work to be done."
Follow Anjalee on Twitter @AnjKhem