Costs for advanced blood tests are coming down, and WellnessFX is hoping a stark discount is enough to get people to care about living longer.
Today, the health tracker site is launching a $149 package. The package includes advanced blood work that analyzes twice that of an average blood test ordered by a primary physician during a physical, one 15-minute virtual doctor visit, and if patients sign-up in May, another 15-minute consult with a practitioner such as a nutritionist, homeopath, or a pharmacist, will be included in the deal. But the most valuable part of the service is a patient’s ability to track his or her health online.
The goal of the service is both to make access to doctors faster and easier and to provide preventative medicine.
What if someone could actually rewind his or her life and make significant changes that could’ve prevented a life-threatening illness? The lab tests offered by WellnessFX lets patients know if they are, for example, on the road to diabetes or cardiovascular disease, and its virtual doctors help create a plan to reduce their risk and track their progress.
I know firsthand how valuable this kind of information can be to future health. Every day I consume more than 3,000 milligrams of Omega-3. It’s a shock I haven’t grown fins. On top of that, I eat plenty of greens and lots of carrots.
Why? I discovered one year ago that I have the pre-cursor to macular generation. It’s a disease that can cause blindness. But because it was caught early, top Opthamologist Dr. Harvey Fishman says I won’t suffer the fate of millions. He says it’s all about prevention and early detection, a philosophy shared by Jim Kean and Brent Vaughn, founders of WellnessFX. Kean and Vaughn launched the online health tracking site in 2010 to empower consumers to start taking better care of themselves.
“Even our investor Mike Maples admitted when we approached him about our company that he hadn’t seen a doctor in a couple of years,” explains Kean. “Now he’s using our service all the time.”
“WellnessFX is like Google Analytics for your own body,” explains Floodgate Managing Partner Mike Maples. He goes on to say, “It totally changes the way you think about taking control of your health through measurement and ongoing experimentation with different diet, exercise, and supplements.”
The service has been pricey up until now with a $560 initial cost and $69 monthly fees for the basic package and nearly twice that for the premium package. Those packages are available in California, Oregon, and Washington. The new baseline option at $149 is only available in San Francisco for now, as the company tests the product.
Testing the new product in one market is a good move. as there’s still a big question as to whether there’s demand. Possibly thousands would sign-up, but millions? The service is great for athletes and fitness enthusiasts, but even at a lower price point, is it realistic to think that people would pay $149 for these services since insurance doesn’t cover them yet?
“I could imagine the demand for this is quite elastic for most people, and most folks will think twice about the cost if they are paying for it directly,” healthcare investor Mike Powell with Sofinnova Ventures says.
But Powell does like the company’s tool, which allows patients to track their health over time. It’s something most of us don’t have access to now. Our data is locked up within the confines of the hospital or our doctors office. Kaiser is one of few facilities that gives patients at least some access to their records. WellnessFX is based on the philosophy that the more information a patient has the more empowered they are to take preventative action to preserve their health.
Preventable illnesses account for 80 percent of the burden of illness in the United States and 90 percent of healthcare costs. So WellnessFX could arguably help make a dent in the more than $3 trillion in U.S. healthcare costs. It’s just a matter of getting millions to use it. But at $149, it still might be too expensive for the masses.