A Q&A with Dean K. Jenkins, Director of Clinical Marketing, Alere Inc.
Alere delivers reliable and actionable information through rapid diagnostic tests, resulting in better clinical and economic healthcare outcomes globally. Alere has developed products and services tailored for the wellness market designed to deliver immediate, onsite results that assess individual risk.
BioIQ and Alere have partnered to provide a seamless interface between the BioIQ software platform and the Alere Cholestech LDX® System for immediate access to point-of-care lipid profile and glucose results for biometric employee screening events.
This partnership facilitates the implementation of comprehensive, HIPAA-compliant biometric screening events, and also enhances the testing experience for participants by making the entire screening process – from scheduling to collection to tracking progress – readily available on smartphones and tablets through the BioIQ SoftSuite™ Dx platform.
Jenkins shares details on the partnership, below.
BioIQ: The Alere Cholestech LDX® System provides accurate, actionable results that have set the standard in point-of-care lipid and glucose testing. How is this system used during biometric screening events?
Jenkins: Biometric screening typically involves the measurement of risk factors for heart disease and stroke, including blood pressure, lipids (total, HDL & LDL cholesterol and triglycerides), and an assessment of diabetes, a disease of high blood sugar (glucose). Together with a participant’s age, gender, race and smoking history, this information can be used to calculate risk. Participants of biometric screening events can take action if their risk assessment suggests an opportunity for medical attention.
BioIQ: Why is understanding cholesterol and glucose levels important? How do these levels impact overall health?
Jenkins: Cholesterol is a major cause of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) and large clinical trials show that lipid-lowering therapy substantially reduces risk for ASCVD. Recent clinical practice guidelines for cholesterol management from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association recommend lipid profile testing consisting of total, HDL & LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Total and HDL cholesterol are employed in calculations to identify ASCVD risk. LDL cholesterol and triglycerides are used to identify secondary causes of abnormal lipid levels (hyperlipidemia), and triglyceride levels facilitate selection of certain lipid-lowering agents.
Glucose is the major energy source for the human body and is necessary for the growth, development and maintenance of virtually all cells in the tissues and organs. Diabetes mellitus is a disease of persistently elevated blood glucose, also known as hyperglycemia. Controlling hyperglycemia can reduce the risk of the health complications of diabetes. The American Diabetes Association has identified categories of increased risk for diabetes and has criteria for the diagnosis of diabetes mellitus based upon measuring glucose. Having diabetes is also a risk factor for ASCVD.
BioIQ: How does the partnership with BioIQ enhance the current Alere Cholestech LDX®system?
Jenkins: Our partnership greatly streamlines onsite biometric screening events. Lipid and glucose results from the Alere Cholestech LDX® Analyzer are transmitted automatically and seamlessly through an iOS application to the BioIQ SoftSuite™ Dx software. Additionally, the software provides features and functionality such as electronic consent forms, off-line data capture, aggregate reporting and a health portal enhance the biometric screening experience for participants.
The Alere/BioIQ integration is significant because it removes the need for a healthcare professional to manually transfer results from an Alere Cholestech LDX® Analyzer to a tablet or piece of paper, which reduces the possibility of human error at onsite screening events.
BioIQ: Can you walk us through the testing experience from the participant’s perspective?
Jenkins: In an event with onsite testing for lipids and glucose, a participant is seated near an Alere Cholestech LDX® System, a medical device. Their finger is prepared for testing by one of the healthcare professionals with an alcohol wipe and gauze pad, quickly pricked with a lancet, and a drop of blood is collected. A small adhesive bandage is applied to the site of the finger prick. The participant can then have other measurements or information collected.
The healthcare professional dispenses the blood into a test cassette and inserts it into the Alere Cholestech LDX® Analyzer (a small, portable analyzer). Within five minutes, the tests are complete and the results are sent electronically to the BioIQ SoftSuite™ Dx platform to be integrated with the participant’s other information collected during the event.
Participants may find the convenience of fingerstick testing and rapid availability of test results to be preferable to a visit to a laboratory for an intravenous blood draw.
BioIQ: And what about the employer perspective? How does this partnership simplify onsite biometric screenings for corporate wellness or HR professionals?
Jenkins: By integrating the Alere Cholestech LDX® Analyzer and the BioIQ SoftSuite™ Dx software, employees, employers and wellness providers can have real-time access to results, incentives and other biometric screening data and not have to wait weeks for manual entry of results to finalize open enrollment, enroll participants into wellness or disease management programs or other important events tied to the program.
BioIQ: Say a participant of an employer-sponsored biometric screening event received real-time results – and they indicate cardiovascular risk factors. What happens next?
Jenkins: Learning of a risk for cardiovascular disease or the possibility of diabetes – if unknown to the participant – presents an opportunity for the participant to take action. If health coaching is available at the event, a participant may be counseled about lifestyle changes or treatment opportunities. Participants will be encouraged to follow up with their physician for any test results or risk factors that suggest a medical intervention may be warranted.
If the participant already has a known health condition, the test results may give reassurance that their treatment plan is having its desired effect or be prompted to follow up with their physician.
Lastly, the participant can be made aware of any wellness or disease management programs available and have the ability to enroll in the program at the time of the onsite event. The BioIQ SoftSuite™ Dx software also includes an optional educational center and digital mobile coaching that can be made available to the employee.
BioIQ: Are there any options for employees who can’t attend a screening event to have their lipid profile and glucose measured elsewhere?
Jenkins: Lipids and glucose can be measured a number of ways in addition to being measured using five-minute fingerstick testing at a screening event. These options include:
- Having venous blood collected at an event and then sent to a laboratory for testing
- Visiting a clinic or pharmacy for fingerstick testing
- Going to a laboratory for a venous blood draw
- Using a home testing kit
- Visiting a physician
In many cases, a clinic, pharmacy, or the employee’s physician may even use the same Alere Cholestech LDX® technology. An employer’s wellness program may accommodate one or more of these options.
Another off-site option is available through the Alere eScreen™ Occupational Health Network (EOHN), which is an expansive network of occupational health facilities that conduct employment screening events including biometric screening solutions with the Alere Cholestech LDX System.
A closer look at the data transfer process.
BioIQ: How do you see the trend of digitizing health measurement evolving as individuals start learning more about their vital health metrics?
Jenkins: Cholesterol has been part of the national health discussion for decades and public “Know Your Numbers” campaigns have been around nearly as long. And while the prevalence of heart disease and high cholesterol have improved over the years, cardiovascular disease is still the number one cause of death in the U.S. Other trends, such as increasing rates of obesity and diabetes, promise health complications for many in the future.
National surveys tell us that in spite of long public consciousness of these health issues, many Americans are not aware that they have diabetes, high cholesterol or are at risk for cardiovascular disease. In the digital health age, these key numbers – perhaps forgotten since the last mention by a busy physician – can become top of mind, a constant reminder of an opportunity to live a healthier life if prompted to action.