Generating Business Growth for Labs: The Unilab Story

In 2020, laboratories across the globe were suddenly and swiftly inundated with massive amounts of new testing volume. 

COVID-19 testing showed us that telehealth and remote diagnostics are viable and, in many cases, a necessity. As a direct result, many laboratories are now considering investing in at-home health testing. Hurdle and Unilab hosted a joint webinar, Remote Testing: New Avenues of Revenue Growth for Diagnostic Labs, where Julio Cortes discusses Unilab’s direct-to-consumer diagnostic testing. We’ll discuss key highlights from the event and further explore why Unilab decided to expand their offerings to include remote health testing.

Unilab: A Family Business

In 1988, Dr. Cortes opened a fertility clinic. His family knew the difficulties that accompany infertility; his own wife conceived their son, Julio, after being among the first to take an experimental fertility drug, Pergonal. He wanted to help other couples in similar situations expand their families, and Unilab was born. Specializing in endocrine testing and in-cycle monitoring, they used diagnostics to aid couples on their fertility journey and begin families of their own. 

As time went on, Unilab passed to Dr. Cortes’s son, Julio, who leads the company today as CEO. When he was first approached about the possibility of remote testing, Cortes was unsure: “I kinda put it on the back burner. My father instilled in me how precise tests have to be. But eight months ago I met Randy Erspamer with Hurdle, and he was able to direct us to a device that was able to correlate directly with blood draws. …That got us into the mindset of looking for different avenues of revenue to make Unilab grow.”

Remote Fertility Testing

In fertility testing, an AMH test is often used to check a woman’s ability to produce eggs that can be fertilized for pregnancy. Anyone born with a functioning uterus and ovaries has a set amount of egg cells that they will gradually lose throughout their childbearing years. AMH levels show how many potential egg cells remain.

Unilab is deploying remote AMH tests. Patients receive a test kit and follow the mobile sample collection instructions provided. Once they’ve got their blood sample, they send it to Unilab via a pre-paid envelope, where it is registered to the patient via a unique kit ID. Unilab processes the samples on-site, then sends the results back to the patients and providers via Hurdle’s API integration. 

The results of this test are key for fertility providers and are used to customize a patient’s care. A low result, for example, might spur a provider to try different drugs in order to maximize the potential for a conception. Some providers also like to perform AMH tests quarterly in order to track ovarian reserves during IVF treatments, making this a vital benchmark for any fertility treatment process.

Unilab patients are now capable of performing this testing at home, reducing the burden of travel and creating a more efficient diagnostic process. As Cortes said: “We’re focused on creating proprietary data that we can then give to the providers. So, if you have a thirty-year-old with a very low AMH, and that physician sees that result, they’re able to act accordingly and switch the protocols they normally would have used to something more aggressive that will help them.” 

The Impact of Remote Testing

Remote testing provides a number of benefits for patients and their physicians. In partnering with Hurdle to offer direct-to-consumer AMH testing, Unilab has reduced barriers to testing, created a better end to end patient experience, and improved customization of care. Besides fertility testing, there are a number of diagnostic tests that can be performed at home. From discreet STI testing to regular HbA1C monitoring, laboratories of all kinds can leverage remote testing to open up new avenues of revenue growth. 

In the future, Unilab hopes to offer a number of at-home direct-to-consumer tests, such as semen analysis or testosterone levels. Cortes believes expanding into remote testing also expands the lab’s geographic reach, as they’re now able to partner with clients who aren’t close to their central Florida location. He is confident that adding direct-to-consumer at-home testing to Unilab’s offerings will also increase brand recognition and encourage more people to take an active role in their fertility. 

By offering at-home versions of their current in-house tests, Unilab also stands to increase their processing volume, patient reach, and revenue. 

Open New Paths to Revenue Growth

Laboratories across the globe are discovering new viable paths for business and revenue growth through remote diagnostic testing. By implementing at-home test kits, labs are able to reach more patients, remove barriers to access, and generate additional revenue. Whether it’s direct-to-consumer or through a provider, offering at-home versions of current tests is a viable way to expand into new markets. 

To learn more about Unilab’s story and the implementation of their remote diagnostic process, download the full webinar recording here