Taking charge of your health has never been more important.
A pandemic has certainly made that even more apparent. There are so many questions and concerns about being safe in seeking out any kind of medical help or care. One company is doing what it can to relieve some of the stress and worry.
STAT Medical wants to help families and individuals feel more in control of figuring out what is going on with their health. The best part is this can be done in the comfort of your own home and is very affordable. People really can get in the driver’s seat when it comes to their health.
So, what exactly is STAT Medical?
STAT Medical is a company that offers lab test kits in a variety of health areas where a sample can be taken at home. Results are available in seven to 10 days after mailing in the sample. Simply put, STAT Medical is a direct to consumer diagnostic company.
“People are so much more aware of their health now because of the pandemic,” said Elizabeth Kayser, Esq., the CEO of STAT Medical. “They want to take charge of their health. The biggest defense to any bacteria or virus is your immune system. That’s your number one defense. It’s all about the immune system. To strengthen and optimize your immune system requires understanding what is going on inside your body and what corrections you need to take to make sure your body is functioning to the optimal capacity. That’s where the lab tests come in.
“What’s in your blood, what’s in your body, what’s really going on. Are you a ticking time bomb? What can you do to correct your high level of LDL and your lipid cholesterol? What can you do to correct your hormones that are all sideways? There are so many tests.”
A number of tests are being offered and plans are for more to be added in the near future. For example, allergy, hormone and cholesterol (lipid) are some tests available.
STAT Medical is making it possible for families to take charge of their health care. The lab test kits are reviewed by doctors and results are posted digitally via the STAT website. Those that have taken a test and sent it in are able to log into their own private, secure portal to get the results.
“We live in a country that doesn’t have a national health service like a lot of other Western countries,” said Dr. Omar Ahmad, Ph.D, who is the chief science advisor for STAT Medical. “We have a lot of people that slip through the cracks. They either don’t have insurance or very high deductibles. There are huge swaths of our country that are just not covered by traditional medical services. So, STAT Medical will help provide and fill in some of those spaces that traditional methods don’t get to.”
Ahmad lives in St. Louis, Missouri, and has been a professor for 25 years. The doctor explained how there are states like Missouri that have a real need for health care for populations of people that live in rural areas or just don’t have access to typical coverage.
“A lot of times if you need something done and you are from a small town or live in a rural area, you just can’t or you plan for one annual trip to get everything done. When you get into health care, it can be inefficient. That’s not a great solution either. STAT helps to provide a method that will fill in some of those spaces efficiently. It helps the consumer with something that is relatively low cost compared to some other options out there. I love that idea.”
That’s what drew Ahmad to join STAT Medical. He had been doing some advising and knew Kayser. The more he learned about STAT Medical, the more he wanted to be a part of it.
“I started getting really interested in the direct consumer model,” Ahmad said. “The tests they were developing were very interesting to me. It’s in my area of research and I’ve run clinical labs before. I’m currently also a professor at a local university medical center. My clinical doctorate is in occupational therapy and my Ph.D is in neuroanatomy with an emphasis in neuropharmacology. I’m really interested in test development and really interested in public health.”
STAT Medical makes it possible to avoid waiting with other people at a doctor’s office or at a lab. You don’t have to risk being in a room full of other people that may or may not be contagious with something you just simply don’t want to be exposed to.
Plus, many times you can get the run around when trying to figure out what is wrong. Communication breaks down and many times you get sent to the wrong place or don’t even know that you were supposed to go to a lab and get blood drawn.
With STAT Medical, you simply go online and order a test from the comfort and privacy of your own home. Tests are self-collecting, meaning you don’t need a phlebotomist. The device that draws the blood (a few drops) is a lancet. Research is being done for other novel, painless devices that are soon to be commercialized. Right now those are cost-prohibitive.
The device the small amount of blood is collected on is a patented filter card and sometimes a small tube called a microtainer. These cards and small tubes are mailed to STAT’s designated clinical lab to be tested.
Making sure the tests are valid is of utmost importance to the team at STAT Medical. Dr. Ahmad has been doing this sort of work for several decades and simply said: “A test is either valid or not valid.”
STAT Medical has an intense vetting process to make sure any test it carries is valid.
“Everything you use with clients needs to be vetted,” Ahmad said. “The validity procedure is a process by which we look at several different factors like reliability, false positives, false negatives, specificity of the test. It’s a group of statistical analysis you do to make sure the test tells you what it hopes to tell you with a relatively low chance of error.
“I’ve done a lot of this with my own labs. I spent a lot of time with the literature and finding out whether this is a test I want to carry. My experience dove tails very well into this role, because that is exactly what I will be doing, seeing if these are tests we want to carry, if these are tests we want to do. I will be a part of that ongoing quality improvement to make sure the tests get better every time. A lot of my experience with running a clinical lab has been choosing which tests we chose to use.”
Each test offered by STAT Medical will go through this rigorous vetting, headed by Dr. Ahmad.
“I will be working through all of them,” Ahmad said. “I’m going to be helping Elizabeth (Kayser) and the rest of the management team decide which ones we are going to carry and in what order we are going to carry them. We want to go with the ones that are going to be most valid and most marketable in the beginning. Then we can start looking at widening our palette. We want to cover a lot of bases. We want to make sure we are covering the complete health care profile of the people we are going to be working with. We want to have a nice, wide palette of things people can choose from to find out about their own health. We want to make sure those are tests that will give us valid information.”
That is very important. STAT Medical wants to make sure those taking the tests are assured it will give correct results. Dr. Ahmad also pointed out that physicians and other professionals wanting to order the test must be assured that it is high quality. Each test will have data sheets.
“You need to know how the test is done and then some basics with validity and reliability so that people can be confident with what the tests can do and what the tests can’t do,” Ahmad said. “And whether they need to look at a different test for more information. It's really important that people know what they are getting when they get this. I will be working with the whole team to develop things that will be understandable to people. I know we have a team working on the portal which is what actually gives the information to people. I’m a big advocate for using as much common language as possible so that people of all different kinds of backgrounds can look at it and say I know what I’m getting.
“Now, it doesn’t take the place of a physician, and it doesn’t take the place of your health care practitioners, but it is an information data point and a source that you can use to make some decisions about your own health.”
While COVID is on most people’s minds, there should be other concerns as well. Dr. Ahmad shared some what he believes are important areas that families should be testing for.
“I think general health tests are really important,” Ahmad said. “For example, understanding your risk for diabetes is really important. Allergies are especially important now. One of the things you usually don’t get treated through your physician is allergy testing and food sensitivity testing. I think those are all important. And from a standpoint of what people want to know versus what the health care system will provide, are good areas. Almost no insurance companies provide reimbursement for food sensitivity. Those are things that are really interesting to people.
“I’m a healthy person. I’m a cyclist and love riding bikes. I also run some judo clubs, try to stay pretty active. For me, my nutrition is very important to me. I want to make sure that I’m not taking things that are going to inflame my body and joints. I want to keep my immune system tuned up as best I can. I don’t want to challenge it with things that I can’t handle so well.”
Which makes one think of another problem that seems to be growing in the U.S. Celiac disease is popping up more and more.
“A test for Celiac disease can be done very quickly, efficient and cheap,” Ahmad said. “Wouldn’t it be nice to know. I’ve got trouble with my gut and I want to take a broad spectrum of tests that will help me understand how my body is working right now and not have to go through multiple doctor visits.”
The doctor continued: “‘Hey, look I’ve got an allergy to gluten, please test me for Celiac disease.’ Then you have a specific agenda and set of data you can present to your doctor. This is what I’ve got and we need to treat it now.”
Kayser and Ahmad both believe strongly in people being able to take charge of their own health care. Families know what is best for each member of the household since they are around them 24/7.
“If people are able to take some of their concerns and fears and put them to rest with a simple test or find out what is going on with their body, that’s huge,” Ahmad said. “Imagine how many sleepless nights that could help. Even if it takes you six months to a year for your doctor to find out that you could find out with a finger stick in a week or two. That’s a lot of sleepless nights. I’m a big fan of people taking control of that stuff.”
STAT Medical is using technology called microsampling. This is where small volumes of blood, saliva and urine will be tested.
“Each test will have a different mechanism, depending on what test you get,” Ahmad said. “Some of them will be a finger stick, some a nasal swab, some saliva. It depends on which one shows the best. I will be accessing these tests against each other and figuring out what will be the most efficient and what makes sense for home use. We want to focus on the ones we can get validated and reliable results from very small samples that you can do on your own.”
STAT Medical is on the cutting edge of changing the way people take care of their health from home.