This week, Hims & Hers announced they would be a new consumer-facing retail channel for coronavirus testing.

You can order the test here for $150 cash out-of-pocket.

The packaging states that this is a saliva test, “to detect current presence of COVID-19.”

The fine print on the Hims website states:

This test has been authorized by the FDA under an Emergency Use Authorization for use by authorized laboratories. This test has not been FDA cleared or approved. This test has been authorized only for the detection of nucleic acid from SARS-CoV-2, not for any other viruses or pathogens. This test is only authorized for the duration of the declaration that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of emergency use of in vitro diagnostic tests for detection and/or diagnosis of COVID-19 under Section 564(b)(1) of the Act, 21 U.S.C. § 360bbb-3(b)(1), unless the authorization is terminated or revoked sooner. 

The Hims site also offers a coronavirus self-assessment tool, taking the user through a series of questions similar to those on the saliva test digital order form.

In case you think Hims & Hers are a marginal part of the health/care ecosystem, they began to ally with the Ochsner Health System in December 2019 as a novel digital front-door for the System’s telehealth program….pre-COVID-19 pandemic.

The month before they announced the Ochsner alliance, Hims & Hers reached one million doctor visits to their platforms.

“There’s enormous potential for us to work with health systems like Ochsner to ensure patients have access to a broad spectrum of high-quality care,” a Hims blog explains. “But that’s just one way we’ll continue making it easier and more affordable for everyone to get the care they need. Life keeps happening outside of traditional office hours and, at Hims & Hers, we think your healthcare should too.”

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  That Hims blog is titled, “Making Healthcare Work for You.”

Hims initially launched in 2017 with a focus on men’s health and, in particular, sexual health, followed by hair and skin health, then expanding into primary care telemedicine visits and soon, tele-mental health — online therapy.

With the addition of the direct-to-consumer (DTC) saliva test for COVID-19, Hims’ self-care portfolio joins the pandemic health economy and, at the same time, expands DTC in this pandemic era.

Consumers overall are seeking greater control over their health and safety in the midst of COVID-19, moving shopping and workflows online to ecommerce sites for pantries and hygiene, school portals for education, and indeed, for health care.

We’ve seen the fast uptake of telehealth, aligning health consumers/patients with clinicians taking to telemedicine, patient portals, texts and business-grade meet-up platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

Here, Hims & Hers is pivoting what began as a focus on telehealth for prescription drugs for men’s health toward COVID-19 and mental health. Watch this space for DTC and retail health to grow in and beyond the pandemic era….a new normal for health/care at home or very close to home in our communities.