Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) is adding to its multifaceted, home-focused COVID-19 response strategy.
The Louisville, Kentucky-based health and well-being company announced two new COVID-19 testing programs on Tuesday, supported by collaborations with Walmart (NYSE: WMT), Quest Diagnostics (NYSE: DGX) and LabCorp (NYSE: LH). Humana has been aggressively responding to the national emergency since early March, even waiving all costs associated with coronavirus testing.
The first program is an in-home testing pilot that gives Humana members access to LapCorp’s COVID-19 at-home test kit. The test — available through LabCorp’s Pixel online platform — is for members with symptoms linked to COVID-19 and those without symptoms who may have been exposed to the virus.
The second program is a drive-thru testing initiative that takes place at hundreds of Walmart Neighborhood Market pharmacy locations across the country. In the initiative, Humana members can go to a participating Walmart location, receive a testing kit from a pharmacist through a drive-thru window, carry out the test themselves, then leave their sample at a drop box for Quest to pick up later.
“The intent is really to partner with our members to make sure they’re feeling a sense of comfort and confidence in a time of a lot of uncertainty,” Mona Siddiqui, Humana senior vice president of clinical strategy and quality, told Home Health Care News. “When we were looking at partnering with our members and creating an easy, seamless experience for them to get tested, we knew … optionality was going to be really important.”
Since launching a few weeks ago, there’s been a clear sense of demand for both testing options, though the in-home testing pilot has been particularly popular, according to Siddiqui. Humana members with Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, Medicaid or employer group plans through Humana are eligible for the tests.
While the tests are available to a broad range of Humana members, they’re especially valuable to seniors and other individuals in the COVID-19 “high risk” category.
“A lot of our seniors are preferring to get the home testing kit delivered to them, feeling a hesitancy in leaving their homes and possibly facing additional exposure [to the virus],” said Siddiqui, an internist physician by trade. “I think this is really going to help those members who have those underlying conditions access testing in the convenience of their homes without worrying about transportation or other things they might have to coordinate.”
LabCorp — the company Humana is teaming up with to facilitate in-home testing — was the first test manufacturer to receive emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). LabCorp received authorization in April, initially prioritizing testing among health care workers and first responders.
To complement in-home testing, Humana is also conducting “a fair number of outbound calls” to its members for added support. Humana At Home — one of Humana’s home care business lines — is leading the charge on those calls.
“This is a partnership with actually Humana At Home and multiple parts of the company to make sure we’re operationalizing [everything],” Siddiqui. “But Humana At Home is a central piece.”
Humana is not restricting in-home testing by types of residences, meaning members living in assisted living communities and other settings can also sign up. Humana members living anywhere in the country have access to in-home testing through the new pilot.
When it comes to drive-thru testing locations, Humana launched five sites with Walmart about two weeks ago, adding another 10 sites last week. Humana and Walmart added 50 more this week.
The companies expect to add 15 more each week moving forward until there are about 500 to 525 locations across the U.S.
“We’ve worked together with Walmart to identify where the Humana membership is, so that we’re making sure those sites are located in the density where Humana members are concentrated,” Siddiqui said.