Simple HealthKit inks deal with Walmart to expand access to at-home tests

Simple HealthKit has inked a deal with Walmart to bring at-home diagnostic tests, including diabetes, respiratory wellness and sexual wellness labs, to the largest retailer in the world.

Through the retail giant’s website, customers can purchase tests bolstered by Simple HealthKit’s end-to-end healthcare infrastructure including testing, follow-up and treatment. The digital health company’s HbA1c test identifies key markers for Type 2 diabetes. Respiratory wellness tests include influenza A, influenza B and respiratory syncytial virus. In light of a decrease in sexual health testing during the pandemic, customers can test for three of the most common STDs at home, chlamydia, gonorrhea and trichomoniasis.

“We didn't want to build another shiny object that nobody can afford,” Sheena Menezes, Ph.D., co-founder and CEO of Simple HealthKit, told Fierce Healthcare. “We really wanted to solve the high-impact, high-need use cases that Americans are suffering from. Walmart cares about price, we care about pricing, because if you build something too shiny but then can’t get quality pricing, the best-in-class user experience, you can’t move the needle.”

Walmart customers who order at-home testing will be provided with physician oversight through Simple HealthKit’s end-to-end system. After performing test collection at home and sending their sample via mail to a Simple HealthKit CLIA-certified and CAP-accredited lab, patients are able to receive results within 24 hours of sample receipt.

Those who receive abnormal test results will be connected with a provider at no additional cost. Patients can also opt to review results and treatment plans with their preexisting primary care provider, Menezes said.

Simple HealthKit’s robust platform connects with provider electronic health records, API plug-ins and HL7 plug-ins, executives said. With a tech stack plus its own labs, Menezes says the company has been able to close the loop on care and speed up the process of lab collection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 70% of medical diagnoses are based on lab results.

Simple HealthKit
(Simple HealthKit)

When asked about why Walmart chose to team up with Simple HealthKit, a spokesperson for the chain said that not only was low-cost access to quality testing important for Walmart customers but also a connection to follow-up care.

“Walmart wants to ensure we are able to help customers save money and live better and enabling at-home testing is one way we can do that,” a Walmart spokesperson told Fierce Healthcare. “We’ve also seen customers have an increased interest in proactively managing their health, post-pandemic.”

Menezes echoed the same sentiment. She said that while pregnancy and fertility tests have been found under bathroom sinks across America for decades, at-home COVID-19 testing proved to the general public how easy at-home testing could be. That phenomenon, along with an industrywide push for patient-centric care, has put the proverbial reigns into the hands of patients.

What's more, patient-centric care has not only meant increased patient autonomy but also a move to value-based care, including preventative care.

One in three American adults has prediabetes, a serious health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal but have not yet reached the level of Type 2 diabetes. Of those 96 million American adults, 80% do not know they are in the risk group for developing diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Testing for HbA1c levels early enough, Menezes said, can help avoid later major health complications. Testing for HbA1c consistently for those who know they are prediabetic can allow for treatment plan course correction and adherence.

“There are not enough access points for a lot of America,” Menezes said. “There’s a physician shortage. My mom has to drive so far to seek care. By making tests accessible for a steal like this, that's changing healthcare.”

In addition to accessing HbA1c tests, Walmart customers can also access diabetes management through the retailer’s ReliOn line of test strips, meters and glucose products.

In June 2021, the company also launched its private brand analog insulin with the goal of decreasing the cost of diabetes management, a condition that has been notoriously expensive to manage for many Americans. In alignment with a longitudinal approach to health, a Walmart spokesperson also made note of the company’s status as a nation-wide fresh produce provider.

“Walmart provides access to affordable fresh fruits and vegetables across the U.S.,” the spokesperson said. “With 90% of Americans living within 10 miles of a Walmart, and services such as grocery pickup and delivery, Walmart delivers value and convenience.”

Simple HealthKit recently launched an expanded sexual health offering with the addition of at-home HIV and syphilis testing. STD testing rates plummeted during the pandemic with a recent study published in The Lancet estimating that screening decreased between 68% and 97% in outpatient settings.

While many Americans know that STDs are treatable, and oftentimes curable, untreated STDs are the number one cause of infertility in females. “Early detection is key to changing someone's course of life,” Menezes said.

“This whole domain, even inking this deal with Walmart, is new in the sense that we’re bringing some of these pieces together,” Menezes said. “So we started this by saying, let’s solve for the biggest epidemics throughout our nation and make all of these tests accessible and affordable for all.”