After Theranos-Safeway Split, Grocer Picks Sonora Quest Laboratories

Arizona’s largest clinical lab company opens PSCs in Safeway stores in Phoenix, Scottsdale

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IT’S RARE TO FIND ONE COMPANY STEP IN after another fails to execute a business strategy successfully. But that happened when Sonora Quest Laboratories in Scottsdale, Arizona, moved to fill the void created when Theranos Inc. did not fulfill an agreement to open patient service centers (PSCs) in Safeway stores in Arizona.

Since last month, Sonora Quest has opened patient services centers in two Safeway stores. In November, it was reported by The Wall Street Journal that Theranos had planned to open PSCs in 800 Safeway stores nationwide. To accommodate these centers, Safeway spent $350 million to build the infrastructure Theranos would need. The Journal also reported that Theranos and Safeway were negotiating to dissolve their agreement.

empowering patients

“We’re excited about the opportunity to open these two patient service centers in a retail setting,” stated Christina Noble, VP of Business Development at Sonora Quest. “We have a strong belief in patient empowerment and making lab tests available in food and drug retailers is one more way to support patients while improving patient satisfaction and the patient experience.

“It could be that operating in a convenient environment such as grocery stores will allow patients to improve their adherence to doctors’ orders for testing,” she noted. “That could help to control costs for patients and for health plans and government payers as well.”

Sonora Quest opened one PSC in a Safeway store in north Scottsdale. Another is open in Phoenix. Each PSC is open from 7 AM to 6 PM on weekdays, and 8 AM to noon on Saturdays. “Sonora Quest is continually re-evaluating its options to see if and where it would be most appropriate to open other PSCs in a Safeway or other retail setting,” observed Noble.

“All of our patient service centers— including the ones in Safeway stores—are full service centers,” she explained. “That means a patient can obtain any test ordered by his or her physician, not just the menu of tests that we offer under the state’s direct-access testing law. All patient samples collected at our PSCs in Safeway are tested in our core lab.” (See TDR, November 16, 2015.)

According to The Wall Street Journal, along with collecting specimens from consumers and patients, Theranos had planned to do some lab testing onsite in Safeway stores as a way to deliver results quickly to patients. It is reported that as many as 800 Safeway stores were remodeled with waiting areas and spaces where specimens could be collected and lab tests performed on site.

Meanwhile, the team at Sonora Quest sees opportunity in direct access testing. “For us and for the clinical lab industry, this is an exciting challenge. It’s time for labs to make it easier for patients to get lab testing done,” concluded Noble.

Contact Laura Waldron at 480-998-2600 or lwaldran@lavidge.com.

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