Self-Diagnostic Tests – Retail RDN Opportunity
By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
Consumers are now seeking health information and care that is convenient, personalized and meets them where they are. Some individuals may also face the challenge of in-person physician visits, or want to be proactive about their health by being aware of diagnostic results before engaging with a health care provider. Based on these insights, Walmart and Quest Diagnostics are now offering consumer-initiated lab tests powered by QuestDirect. Through this new program people can go to a consumer-friendly website and purchase the same quality lab tests that are ordered at their doctor’s office. This new program offers more than 50 tests, including those for overall health, digestive health, allergies, heart health, women’s health and infectious disease.
Since many individuals admit to skipping or putting off medical treatment or appointments, especially during the pandemic, this testing solutions is being offered to support for a variety of conditions for potentially better outcomes. To buy a lab test, consumers visit the QuestDiagnosics website. Each purchase is reviewed and, if appropriate, ordered by a licensed physician. Depending on the test, people will be prompted to schedule an appointment at one of Quest’s Patient Service Centers, including locations at select Walmart stores. An at-home collection kit with detailed sample collection instructions will be sent to people for certain tests. Results are typically available in a couple of days on MyQuest and results can be shared with a doctor, or others. The service also provides access to a health care provider for an explanation of test results and prescription treatments if needed.
Given the probable expansion of this type of self-directed diagnostic testing, the opportunity existed for retail RDNs to play a significant role in helping consumers with test interpretation and nutrition solutions. Using the test results, dietitians can help consumers with:
- Tailoring consumer meal plans based on personalized goals, lifestyle, food preferences and budget.
- Finding recipes, food products, meals and snacks that manage health concerns and fit into busy schedules and total family needs.
- Ensuring they are consuming the proper macro and micronutrients based on health issues and their dietary pattern (vegan, flexitarian, gluten-free, and others).
- Suggesting a personalized vitamin or supplement plan to help manage or treat health conditions. For example, through the Vitamine program, dietitians are currently helping individuals build personalized vitamin plans by using results from a questionnaire. Diagnostic testing would add another layer of data to utilize with such a service.