Carter Lee|8/15/2023|3 min read

How the Test-to-Treat Healthcare Model Streamlines Patient Care

OpenLoop partner, Vinay Patel, Pharm.D of MakoRx, talks test-to-treat and his recent pilot into local NC pharmacies

Headshot of Vinay Patel

As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, hybrid healthcare models have emerged as a solution that melds traditional face-to-face care with innovative technologies. Within the hybrid care model family is test-to-treat, streamlining and simplifying the way care is delivered.

OpenLoop sat down with MakoRx founder, Vinay Patel, Pharm.D to learn more about the test-to-treat model and discuss their current point-of-care flagship program with local North Carolina pharmacies.

1. Can you provide an overview of the test-to-treat model in the virtual healthcare space and how it differs from traditional healthcare models?

“The best way to explain test-to-treat is through an example. Say I’m pretty sure I have strep throat but I don’t know for certain. Instead of going to urgent care, I make an appointment online and then go straight to the pharmacy where I take a strep test. After the test results come in, I consult with a telehealth doctor about the results, get a prescription and walk out with the medication. 

With test-to-treat, I do all of this within the span of one pharmacy visit. Whereas a traditional healthcare model involves a trip to urgent care, then a separate trip to the pharmacy (with a lot of waiting in-between).”

2. What are some key advantages of implementing the test-to-treat model?

“One of the key advantages is the timesaving aspect of it all. With the test-to-treat model, you walk in sick, walk out with medication - creating a much more seamless healthcare experience. In addition to saving time, with MakoRx’s model, you also eliminate the headache and hassle of insurance. MakoRx offers a fully transparent upfront cash price bundle to get your test result and your medical consultation. Overall, test-to-treat simplifies the care process.”

3. Are there any challenges or limitations associated with implementing the test-to-treat approach?

“Initial implementation is one of the main challenges, there is always a learning curve when it comes to new technology and processes - it takes time to work out the bugs. Additionally, considering test-to-treat is such a new model of healthcare, the educational element and getting patients comfortable with the change has also been a challenge.”

4. What types of patients might the test-to-treat pharmacy model benefit the most?

“This model benefits all types of patients. However, as of right now, the model is limited to patients who have conditions that can be easily tested without the need for extensive lab results. But as we continue to refine test-to-treat care, we’re looking to expand outside of urgent care into more primary care services. The goal is for the pharmacy to be the hub for primary care where you have a virtual doctor that can do consultations and then whatever you need in person, the pharmacy provides.”

5. Currently, what type of patients and communities are your flagship test-to-treat pharmacies serving?

“Today, 100% of the program runs through hometown mom-and-pop pharmacies. Our pharmacies are in every part of the state of North Carolina, in both highly dense populations and rural areas. Demographically, if we were to break down the patients we’ve seen so far, the population leans more female. However, we’ve served patients of all ages and genders and have seen success throughout our different pharmacy locations.”

6. How does the test-to-treat model contribute to improved patient outcomes and reduced healthcare costs?

“When it comes to patient outcomes, I’d say this model significantly improves the overall patient experience. It removes unnecessary steps and excessive waiting that patients typically experience with traditional healthcare. And with this streamlined process, patients also receive diagnosis and medication faster, allowing them to begin treatment earlier.

And in terms of reducing healthcare costs, MakoRx Care Connect Flu/Strep test-to-treat’s upfront cash pricing is far less expensive than an ER visit (avg $2,000/ visit) or an urgent care visit (avg $150/ visit). The test-to-treat model can also provide additional savings from potentially reduced prescription costs. MakoRx uses Cost-Plus pricing, which is typically less expensive than pharmacy insurance prices. Lastly, there is a cost-saving component compared to patients not seeking medical care at all. This could cause potential complications from co-morbid conditions, leading to higher long-term healthcare expenses like hospitalizations.”

7. What do you see as the future of the test-to-treat approach in the virtual healthcare space, and what advancements or developments can we expect?

“The next couple of immediate steps in front of MakoRx is collaborating with local communities and independent pharmacies to expand access to more clinical care services for patients who need it most. As for farther into the future, I would say we need to leverage our access to medical consults via OpenLoop clinicians to create a future where it is commonplace for patients to walk into their local pharmacy to get their primary/specialty care virtually plus basic imaging, blood work and medicines in person. When we have created a true patient care team with collaboration between the hometown pharmacist and virtual medical providers, we will have higher quality care, better outcomes and a healthcare experience patients will value.”

Your partner in better telehealth delivery

The future of hybrid care is bright with lots of opportunities to evolve and streamline the patient care experience. If you are looking to get started in changing the future of healthcare, OpenLoop is here to help! 

OpenLoop is your virtual care support partner. Our private-label EHR platform is fully customizable to meet your unique patient flow and branding standards. Paired with our provider staffing network of 6000+ covered clinicians spanning 30+ specialities and 15 different languages, scaling your virtual care services became that much easier. 

Our full suite of white-labeled Telehealth Support Services include:

Interested in what we can do for your organization? Get in touch here!