$2B by 2025: the at-home testing gold rush

The market for at-home lab tests has exploded in recent years, and established players and new entrants alike are seeing huge growth. It could pass a valuation of $2 billion by 2025, according to Quest Diagnostics.

"We have experienced over 100 percent growth in 2021 over 2020," Everly Health CEO Julia Cheek told CNBC in a Feb. 3 report. 

Everly Health provides at-home lab testing through its Everlywell brand, and Ms. Cheek said Everlywell's growth has been driven by more than just COVID-19 tests. She told CNBC that the firm has seen 200 to 300 percent year-over-year growth in orders for sexual health tests and 400 percent in orders for women's health tests.

Many at-home tests are proving so successful in part because they are filling service gaps in the healthcare system. Afton Vechery, co-founder of Modern Fertility, started the company after her OB-GYN wouldn't order a panel of hormone testing that would have given her information about her fertility.

"They said, 'No, Afton, you're not trying and failing to conceive right now. We're not going to order that for you,'" she told CNBC. When Ms. Vechery eventually got the tests done, she was billed $1,500 for them.

"That was totally unexpected to me, and so we really wanted to bring this to market in a way where we could provide access for as many people with ovaries as possible," she said.

Big names in lab testing are seeing growth and expanding their at-home offerings, too. Quest Diagnostics said Jan. 31 that it's offering consumer-initiated lab testing through a partnership with Walmart. 

Using the partnership's website, consumers can purchase from a pool of more than 50 different tests, including digestive health, allergy, heart health, women's health and infectious diseases.

Quest Diagnostics is launching an at-home COVID-19 rapid antigen test service that can certify results 24/7 via telehealth.

Consumer demand is driving growth, but that goes beyond individuals — the federal government is buying at-home tests, too. The Defense Department has placed orders for about 500 million home COVID-19 tests, en route to a Biden administration target of 1 billion purchased and made available to the public for free.

Abbott Laboratories recently posted its largest-ever quarter for rapid diagnostics, according to a news release from data analytics and consulting firm GlobalData. The company's rapid diagnostics segment sold more than $2.6 billion in the fourth quarter, driving growth of more than 95 percent for rapid diagnostics overall in 2021.

Innovation in the market continues to progress at a breakneck pace. Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle have created a new test for COVID-19 they say combines the speed of an over-the-counter antigen test with the accuracy of a PCR test.

While the test is currently being developed for use in a clinical setting, the researchers say they plan to adapt it for home use in the future. 

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