Direct to consumer medical tests are offered in United StatesBMJ 2006; 333 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.333.7557.12-a (Published 29 June 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:12
All rapid responses
This response is written to address the negative statements made
about my company and the rapidly growing industry of Direct-to-Consumer
Testing. My company, MyMedLab.com, appeared in this article by name only
without any explanation of our services other than quotes from a provider
planning to do in the near future what we have done for over a decade.
First, let me set the stage. Currently in the health care market,
20% of patients use 80% of the care. Medical Mistakes are the 5th largest
killer of Americans. Hospital-Acquired Infections kill more Americans
every year than Breast Cancer, AIDS, and automobile accidents COMBINED.
These statistics illustrate huge problems with the current health care
model. It’s antiquated, grossly inefficient and simply not working for
The current model is based on a 50-year-old third-party payer system
that pre-dates the information age. It has little to no room in the
process for today's educated patient or information-savvy consumer. The
current "Assembly-Line" model sees patients who have done their homework
as a hindrance to a process designed to move patients like cattle through
the gates of the ER. Why? because informed consumers ask questions and
seek second opinions, both of which slow down the process. The model
itself creates a scenario where health care is the only industry left that
protects consumers from THEIR OWN information.
The Direct-to-Consumer model is not designed for the 20% utilizing
the care but the 80% trying desperately to stay out of it. The entire
industry is being driven by a "Baby-Boomers" generation left with the
undesirable task of dragging their elderly parents through a system they
cannot believe exists. One wrought with long waits, huge bills and
impersonal service. These boomers are determined to be more involved and
take steps to avoid the "treatment only focus" through prevention.
They're smart enough to know that screenings allow problems to be
identified early, when treatment and changes in lifestyle can be the most
effective and least costly.
Why are Americans gravitating to our model? One obvious reason is
that they WANT to know more and be more involved to better protect their
health and their family. The second is the HAVE to know more. The days of
taking a loved-one to a hospital, dropping them off and picking them up a
week later, relieved of their ailments, is a distant memory in this
country. Americans know first hand that if they are not willing to be
there 24/7, their family member's care is appalling. Each patient today
requires an advocate to secure the level of care they both deserve and
At MyMedLab.com, we have access to over 1500 different tests but
provide less than 100 direct to consumers. Why? Because many tests do not
as work well in this model. Tests that require a physical exam combined
with lab results can leave consumers confused with results alone. Our
goal of educating consumers is not well served by these tests. These
types of testing are provided to our consumers through their physicians
order to maximize their benefits and lower their cost.
Over the last 12 years of providing our service to a regional market,
we have designed simple explanations for many tests as well as created
links to more information. Each test listed on our site includes a direct
link to the National Library of Health for further information about the
test, abnormal results and what condition are associated with them. We
are also including podcasts from the nation’s leading medical experts on
subjects like Prostate Cancer, Thyroid problems and many others.
The negative quote about my company and my industry by Arthur Levin
is typical of his philosophy and his home state of New York. My response
to his so called “Center for Medical Consumers” is that today’s consumers
are tired of being told “have a seat and we’ll take care of you because
we know what’s best for you.” They're no longer willing to let
bureaucracy limit their knowledge and their access.
We are constantly being contacted by consumers in both New York and
New Jersey who are frustrated that their states have enacted legislation
that prohibits them from educating themselves. Many chose to access this
information while traveling out of your state while on vacation. So just
like the seniors taking bus trips to Canada to circumvent a drug industry
driven by profits over patients, your fellow New Yorkers are bypassing
your attempts to control their care.
Competing interests: No competing interests