Evolution (ĕv‘ə-lū’shən) n.
- A gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form.
- Change in the genetic composition of a population during successive generations resulting in the development of new species.
In addition to my work with Current Health, I have been actively involved as a Chief Medical Advisor to leading direct to consumer laboratory testing service MyMedLab. They have developed a cost-effective, convenient, compliant, and confidential way to obtain laboratory testing results. Their model is simple, efficient, and has been found to be effective in getting people the information they need to manage their health in concert with their trusted physician advisors.
However, as everyone knows, going Direct to Consumers is a very hard, long, and tough slog. With so much competition (in terms of other competitors, time and attention of consumers, and the difficult economic environment) this type of hand to hand combat is not practical. However, while the service was designed specifically for consumers, it is also a practical solution for consumer aggregators – namely physicians who have specialty testing requirements.
MyMedLab has been fortuante to work with hormone thought leader Dr. Erika Schwartz. A regular on the speaking, publishing, and media circuit, she has helped hundreds of thousands of women and men learn the importance of their hormone health as well as provide counsel and guidance in optimizing health. Dr. Erika was able to dramatically simplify her laboratory testing by creating a simple gender-based Hormone Profile that her consumers can purchase directly at impressive discounts. This allows her patients to follow her guidelines exactly, at a tremendous value, and in a manner that facilitates the patient-physician partnership. While the partnership was announced several weeks ago, she posted her comments regarding the relationship on her blog today:
December 8, 2008
EASY AND AFFORDABLE BLOOD TESTING TO HELP YOU FIGURE OUT YOUR HORMONE LEVELS
My thirty years of medical practice as an internist and trauma doctor have given me a high degree of understanding, confidence and reliance upon blood testing. Over the course of the past 14 years as I became experienced in the area of hormones and wellness and disease prevention, I did evaluate other testing modalities to provide me and my patients support and deeper insight into hormone levels.
I looked into saliva testing and found it too new and lacking sufficient scientific evidence (remember I’ve been working with blood tests for 30 years). I examined urine testing and while I do believe 24 hour urines are reliable and a solid source of information, they are costly and cumbersome to the patient.
While I do agree with critics of blood testing that they are only a snapshot of the dynamic picture of our hormones and bodies in constant motion and change, I am convinced that in the right context, blood testing is a valuable tool for the physician and patient willing to explore as many as possible of the infinite number of variables that define a human being.
Blood testing isn’t and should never be the only way to evaluate hormone levels. Any physician who only looks at your blood tests is missing the most important ingredient in the care of the patient, that ingredient is YOU, the patient.
Having said that, I believe blood testing is a useful guide, an initial baseline marker, a place to start in getting some internal understanding of where the patient is and then to follow the impact the hormones, diet, exercise, lifestyle regimen I work with.
I caution my patients and the doctors I work with though. Blood tests should be used in context. By that I mean in the context of listening and following what the patient tells me and how the patient feels. For instance: if the blood tests show low to moderate hormone levels and the patient is feeling great, under no circumstances would I increase the amount of hormones I dispense. However, if the blood tests show low or even normal hormone levels and the patient suffers with symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, mood swings, weight gain, bloating, loss of libido, headaches, etc. I will listen to the patient and increase or change the type and ratios of bioidentical hormones I prescribe. In addition keep in mind that when taking synthetic or non-human identical hormones, the blood tests are useless because HRT eliminates the normal human hormone variations. Bioidentical hormones do not annihilate the normal hormone fluctuations found in the blood tests.
Since the blood tests are part and parcel of the development of a cogent picture for your hormone health, it is crucial to work with a reliable and accessible lab.
Another critical point: the blood tests belong to you, they are your bloods after all and you should never be placed in a position where you cannot access them because your physician does not want to order them, or you cannot afford them.
With this philosophy in mind I set out to find a way to help my patients and readers find an online laboratory service that would provide access to reasonable cost lab testing, that is supportive of creating and offering the blood test panels I use on the patients I see in my office in New York, regardless of where you are in the United States.
Toward that goal I connected with mymedlab.com and am happy to inform you that this excellent service is now available to you. This is a cutting edge opportunity to take control over your healthcare by accessing the blood tests you need and want online.
The way this works is that if you go to drerika.mymedlab.com you access the exact panel of blood tests I use. Once you sign up, mymedlab will provide a physician in your state the information and without having to go to the doctor’s office, you will be referred to a lab in your area. The results will come to you in 24-48 hours and then you can use the results to work with your own physician or you may contact me for more direction and possible referral.
The cost is up to 70% less than if you went to a lab on your own because through mymedlab.com you have access to their volume discounts which they pass on to you.
Check out the drerika.mymedlab.com and see if this is an option you want to consider. From my perspective, it’s a great way to empower you to own your healthcare information and contain the costs while having direct access to the blood tests I use to determine hormone status in my patients. And finally, use the information to make you smarter and stronger so that you can take control over creating a positive outcome in your own life. Posted by DrErika at 1:40 PM on December 8, 2008.
This evolution in the MyMedLab platform will enable the service to be opened up to a broader range of consumers who are facing expensive and complex testing requirements. It will also facilitate the opportunity for ordering physicians to create branded profiles (discrete individual tests bundled together for convenience, cost savings, and efficiency) that can be made available directly to consumers.
MyMedLab hopes to continue to work with health care innovators to make lab testing available in the most cost-effective, convenient, and confidential manner possible to help consumers measure, monitor, and improve their health status.
2 comments on “MyMedLab – Evolution of DTC Lab Testing”
Scott, I took a look at the Dr. Erika profiles, and found them very interesting. There’s no rational clinical reason to include most of those tests, particularly on asymptomatic people. (Side comments — testosterone results on women are analytically totally worthless unless they’re done by mass spectrometry; I couldn’t tell from the order menu whether this was the method, but suspect these were just routine EIA testosterones. Free T3 is analytically poor and is never necessary — just use Free T4. For estrogen status, Estrone is rarely necessary. And I could go on and on.)
These panels, and Dr. Erika’s apparent business model overall, are entirely in the realm of alternative medicine as opposed to scientific medicine. Now, I don’t have a problem with alternative medicine, and it’s a legit business model for companies that want to go there. But playing to the alternative crowd will kill MyMedLab’s branding in the scientific medicine world. It sounds to me almost an admission that they haven’t figured out how to make money doing evidence-based testing, so they want to chase “Wellness”. Exactly what the full-body CT/MRI scan places have done, and in my opinion there’s not much future in that.