Rapid disease testing system set for rollout in pharmacies across Canada
Avricore Health's HealthTab system adds a new dimension to pharmacy practice and creates additional revenue opportunities.
By Marjo Johne
Hector Bremner, CEO of Avricore Health Inc.
In Hector Bremner’s vision of the pharmacy of the future, patients can go into their community drugstore for lab-quality health tests, discuss the results with their pharmacist, then come back for a follow-up test to see how well they’re responding to their health program.
That vision started to take concrete shape this month, when Bremner’s Vancouver-based company, Avricore Health Inc., put its health screening system into 12 Shoppers Drug Mart stores in the Greater Toronto Area, as well as in a number of independent pharmacies in Ontario and B.C.
“This adds a new dimension to the pharmacy practice,” said Bremner, CEO of Avricore Health. “By providing this kind of service in a community pharmacy setting, we lower barriers to access to diagnostic information that’s often life-saving and outcome-improving. Ultimately, we’re democratizing access to diagnosis while addressing the needs of pharmacists as they look to getting into more clinical services.”
The screening system is built on two key components. The first is Avricore Health’s HealthTab web-based platform, which provides a console-accessible interface where patients can create an account and choose their tests, and where pharmacists can review and monitor patient information.
The second component is an Affinion 2 multi-assay analyzer, created by Abbott Laboratories to provide patient testing at point-of-care.
Once they’ve registered and chosen a test, patients ask their pharmacist to extract a small blood sample from a finger prick. The sample is deposited into a reagent disc, which is inserted into the analyzer.
Results, which are presented in a dashboard format that highlights areas of risk, are ready in about 15 minutes and can be viewed from a computer, mobile device or printed at the pharmacy for use during a medical review. This information integrates easily into pharmacy EMR systems, noted Bremner.
“The response from customers has been pretty amazing,” he said. “Our expectation was testing of one patient a day but the pharmacists who have this in their stores have been doing, in some cases, 15 patients a day. The first Shoppers pharmacist to put this in their store did 90 patients in eight days.”
The screening system, which measures up to 21 health markets, currently offers tests for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Depending on a number of factors—such as type of analyzer and number of instruments—pharmacies pay between $300 to $500 a month for the system, plus a per test cost of between $15 to $40, which covers the single-use test cartridges.
“Overall, the cost of having the system for the pharmacy is low and the per-test cost allows for a range of significant revenue opportunities for that location, whether it’s billing for consultations, such as med checks, or new patient acquisitions,” said Bremner.
Improved therapy adherence—one of the expected outcomes for pharmacists who integrate HealthTab into their practice—will also drive profit margin increases, he added.
With the success of its rollout at Shoppers Drug Mart, Avricore Health is now working to bring HealthTab to pharmacies across the country and beyond, said Bremner.