Last week, I shared that I am looking for opportunities in femtech, and in the post, I wrote:
In the future (and we’re starting to see this happen now), tests will be taken in the home with results delivered immediately: imagine something like a pregnancy test or glucose test strip in the home but to diagnose common ailments like UTIs, STDs, strep, etc. which can then be treated via telehealth with a doctor quickly reviewing results and writing a prescription to your local pharmacy or directly to your home.
It’s a future where these tests and care are effectively delivered as close to OTC (“over the counter”) as we can get (but can’t currently because treatment often involves regulated medications like antibiotics). As we approach OTC treatment, even if patients have to pay out of pocket, it will cost a magnitude or two less than going to a physician or clinic.
As I wrote these words, I was thinking specifically of Scanwell Health which provides scalable diagnostics for healthcare companies. Coincidently, Scanwell announced its $3.5M seed round on the same day I published my post.
… and today, we are excited to share our support for the company. We invested alongside YC, Founders Fund, Mayfield, DCM and Liquid 2 Ventures.
Scanwell’s first diagnostic is an at-home test kit for urinary tract infections (UTIs). Here’s how it works: if you suspect you have a UTI, you pee on a strip and using your smartphone for colorimetry analysis on the Scanwell app, you will get your results in 2 minutes.
How is this immediately impactful? Consider two common situations today:
- A young woman goes to urgent care to treat a UTI. This takes time away from work, etc. and can also cost 100s of dollars.
- An elderly person (many are prone to UTIs) is in extreme pain and needs to be transported to the hospital via an ambulance for tests and treatment because there is no way to diagnose him/her at home. This can cost 1000s of dollars and puts the patient at risk as s/he is susceptible to illness in the hospital to wait for care. Not to mention, there is a strain on the healthcare system when an ambulance is working on a non-emergency case.
Scanwell is a game-changer in that it can offer immediate diagnostics and care (through partners) for magnitudes less in terms of cost. Tests can be offered at 10s of dollars, which people can afford out of pocket. Now, women can store test kits in the medicine cabinet alongside Advil or Pepto Bismol. Scanwell partners with networks (like Lemonaid) who will quickly confirm the test results and can wire a prescription to a local pharmacy. Similarly, paramedics can have test kits in the ambulance ready to help their patients.
Founder and CEO Stephen Chen grew up in the diagnostics testing business (his family built one of the largest manufacturers of urinalysis testing in the country). This experience gave him a unique perspective on the possibility of making reliable at-home testing accessible to millions of people. This shared vision of making the delivery of care as “OTC-as-possible” is just one of the reasons that we hit it off immediately.
Scanwell is starting with UTI diagnostics but is already developing more at-home tests. We are thrilled to be part of their journey to change the current cost structure of healthcare and democratize access to it!