Health Mart teams up to enable drive-through testing

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FORT WORTH, Texas — U.S.-based healthcare technology company eTrueNorth is enabling new drive-through COVID-19 testing sites that are opening daily in partnership with a growing list of national pharmacy chains that include Walmart, The Kroger Co., and McKesson’s Health Mart. Work to begin this public-private partnership began on March 13 and includes funding by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Just over 45 days from its beginning, the public-private partnership is opening new parking lot sites in towns and cities across the nation daily. eTrueNorth’s goal is to actively participate in hundreds of testing sites across the country.

eTrueNorth has established a network of more than 7,500 local pharmacies across the nation which are certified as CLIA- waived laboratories and have empowered pharmacists to expand their role in the delivery of health services to their customers. In October 2018, the company announced the launch of a technology infrastructure platform to issue vouchers to individuals who need clinical testing. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, eTrueNorth utilized its proven technology to aid with drive-through testing.

“eTrueNorth is so thankful that we have the opportunity to increase access to COVID-19 testing for Americans,” said Coral May, eTrueNorth’s president and CEO. “Our technology infrastructure and ability to enable clinical services to be performed at retail pharmacies across the country positioned the company well to partner with national pharmacy brands, HHS and local municipalities on the critical need for expanding testing. Our goal is to open new testing sites and partner with an expanded list of pharmacy brands to meet the need of testing Americans.”

The Walmart, Kroger and Health Mart partnerships are critical for expanding testing to Americans. “Americans trust their local pharmacy. In fact, 95% of the U.S. population lives with five miles of a pharmacy,” added May. “By leveraging this trust and providing the needed technology infrastructure, eTrueNorth hopes to materially contribute to meet the need for testing. We are re-deploying our proven delivery model to partner with pharmacies in a drive-through testing model to test more and more Americans.”

How Drive-Through Testing Works

“While the exact process varies by pharmacy brand, generally, individuals visit a website to select drive-through testing locations. They answer a simple series of qualifying questions, and if their symptoms meet Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, they are issued a voucher as well as a scheduled date and time to arrive for testing. The voucher system manages the pre- and post-test process,” said May. “Once onsite, individuals self-administer a nasal swab in their vehicles in a “drive through” or similar model – there is no testing in stores. eTrueNorth then contracts with certified laboratories for testing and communicates results back to the individual and state health departments. The local pharmacy brands provide onsite clinical staffing. This partnership is working, and we are very proud to lend our expertise to the solution. We will continue to expand around the country.”

Pharmacists Can Order and Administer COVID-19 Tests.

Earlier this month, HHS issued guidance under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act authorizing licensed pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 tests that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized. Each week we see more states align with this HHS guidance expanding the scope of what pharmacists can do.

“Giving pharmacists the authorization to order and administer COVID-19 tests to their patients means easier access to testing for Americans who need it. Pharmacists play a vital role in delivering convenient access to important public health services and information. The Trump Administration is pleased to give pharmacists the chance to play a bigger role in the COVID-19 response, alongside all of America’s heroic healthcare workers,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar in an April 8, 2020 press release.

“eTrueNorth is foremost a company that supports local pharmacies. The effort that local pharmacists are making to provide testing to Americans cannot be understated,” said May. “Whether pharmacists are working to support drive- through COVID-19 testing or working with Americans at the pharmacy desk, they are front-line healthcare professionals that are providing critical support.”

Success of the Public-Private Partnership

As pharmacy brands continue to offer additional tests to Americans, eTrueNorth is acknowledging the work done to date and looks to the near future to expand its efforts.
“In just 45 days since the announcement of the public-private partnership, great strides have been made to open testing sites. There is still much work to do,” said May. “eTrueNorth is excited about continuing the recent success and expansion of this public-private partnership to test more and more Americans.”

Kroger recently announced plans to expand its drive-through COVID-19 testing model to 50 locations in more than 12 states to perform up to 100,000 tests by the end of May. And Health Mart, with more than 5,000 locations, plans to offer COVID-19 testing nationwide with select pharmacies serving low-income areas and vulnerable populations.



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