QuickCheck hopes customers will be attracted to the allure of greater convenience and less cost. An emergency room visit for strep can cost $650, and a doctor’s visit costs about $200, even though the cost of a strep test is about $2 and the cost of the antibiotics to treat it is about $4. A visit to a retail health clinic, while cheaper, is still about $70, according to Henke. QuickCheck aims for a retail cost of $10 to $15 for the test, and $35 for the physician’s assessment.
“They make a good case that the cost of managing certain medical problems that are relatively straightforward and acute could be lowered when done outside of the primary-care office,” says Joe Weidner, a family practice physician at Stone Run Family Medicine in Maryland. Weidner is considering partnering with QuickCheck Health as one of its online health-care providers.
Moving health care out of the doctor’s office could also help deal with the shortage of primary-care providers, especially in rural areas where there are few retail health clinics. “My personal bias is that anything we can do to decentralize health-care delivery is moving us in a better direction,” says Joseph Kvedar, founder of the Center for Connected Health at Partners Healthcare. “Right now there is much more demand than people to provide care, so anything that moves care into the home is likely to be helpful economically and clinically in the long run.”
QuickCheck will likely encounter some of the same hurdles that retail health clinics first faced, including questions about the accuracy of the tests or possible complications that can occur in rare cases. But both Kvedar and Weidner say they like the fact that the process requires the user to log onto a website, opening a line of communication between patients and doctors. QuickCheck can also follow up with users to see if those with negative results are feeling better; if not, a second test might be warranted.