Quest Diagnostics rolls out return-to-work services

The decline in new coronavirus cases each day is allowing schools and businesses to reopen their doors.

But how to safely do that is not yet standardized. Some employers are considering temperature checks or requiring employees to get an antibody or swab test before returning to work. In addition, companies are figuring out how to ensure safe distancing in the office and making sure there’s an ample supply of personal protective equipment such as hand sanitizer and disinfectant.

Companies like Quest Diagnostics (DGX) and LabCorp (LH), the two largest commercial labs in the country, have been at the forefront of testing in the country — both for PCR swab and antibody tests. Now, they have begun to offer packages to employers to help ensure people safely return to work. Quest unveiled its suite of services Wednesday, following LabCorp which announced its package on May 14.

“It’s very clear every single company is coming up with a return-to-work plan. Every single company is trying to drive a strategy,” Quest Chief medical officer Jay Wohlgemuth told Yahoo Finance. “There’s an unprecedented amount of interest.”

Quest stayed open throughout the outbreak and is using its experience, as well as network of manufacturers to offer a fine-tuned suite of services that can help instill the confidence companies need to bring their employees back to the office. It is offering a package of services that include on-site temperature checks, antibody or swab testing sample collections, questionnaires and digital platforms to access results and information.

Bern Township, PA – April 24: Scott Borton, national air logistics manager, loads samples into a plane at the Quest Diagnostics hangar at the Reading Airport on Friday, April 24, 2020. Most of the specimens they are transporting for testing are cornavirus / COVID-19 tests. (Photo by Lauren A. Little/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images)

“Lots of different industries are wondering how to get back to work safely and instill confidence in customers,” Wohlgemuth said..

Each employer has different needs based on its size and locations. Quest has direct or insurer-related relationships with 5,000 employers, and that existing footprint gives it access to address those various concerns.

Empowering organizations of all sizes

Some companies simply want advice on things like what kinds of tests are necessary. A key to figuring out which type of testing — antibody or swab — to offer is to know what the positivity rates and case rates are in each area. If there have been a high number of cases in one city, but low in another, a large company can roll out different testing needs to meet the demand, Wohlgemuth said. A city with a higher number of cases likely needs more antibody testing than swab testing, but both can be used, he added.

And for companies with multiple locations around the world, Quest has pre-existing partnerships to help roll out a universal plan. Two years ago, the company created a network of leading lab partners in China, Brazil, Japan, South Korea and parts of Europe.

“The employers want to deal with one entity and ensure what is being delivered is the same quality…as the U.S.,” Wohlgemuth said. “We are able to set that up through the global network and partners.”

In North America, the company has one-day turnaround times in Canada or Mexico.

Quest also has a plan for smaller businesses that need fewer resources, leaning on its self-swab strategies and numerous collection locations in retail and grocery stores.

“Small employers are a huge part of our economy,” Wohlgemuth said. “We have an emerging self-service model to help small businesses if they can’t get a full plan laid out.”

In a prepared statement, CEO Steve Rusckowski reinforced the idea of the importance of companies big and small: “We will empower organizations of all sizes to use lab insights to help them foster safer and healthy environments as our nation plans to reopen our economy.”

Anjalee Khemlani is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @AnjKhem

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