Despite a backdrop of mass redundancies and the UK entering its worst recession in 300 years, a business from Nottinghamshire has pivoted its operations – ending 2020 with a bolstered team, larger premises and new and improved products.
Home-to-lab testing company Medichecks attacked the pandemic head on, quickly supporting its UKAS-accredited laboratories to help validate finger-prick testing for a COVID antibody test from April.
By reaching out to its database of customers, Medichecks recruited volunteers for research – those whose COVID-19 diagnosis had been proven via a positive PCR test. Volunteers included a large proportion of frontline healthcare staff, and thanks to its management of pre-qualifying research, medical review, and fulfilment of testing kits, in May Medichecks brought to market an antibody test.
With traditional primary care services – such as GP consultations and clinic appointments – hugely restricted during the first lockdown, Medichecks also helped people take control of their health by:
Introducing a range of remote GP monitoring tests in response to public demand
Launching a new collection of fertility checks in conjunction with an external fertility expert
Establishing its first two NHS pilots, including one to allow diabetes patients to check their own blood/glucose levels
Improving its customer journey with digital ‘kit activation’ – making it easier for customers and partners to buy multiple tests
Helen Marsden, co-founder and director of Medichecks, explains: “We quickly realised as the pandemic was unfolding that we were ideally positioned to support both the NHS and the public. Like many organisations, we wanted to do whatever we could to manage the situation, so we hit the ground running, working tirelessly to fill in the gaps the pandemic had created.
“This meant supercharging our growth plans by developing and launching new tests that people wanted and needed. We lent our expertise and resources to study the virus and released an antibody test in May, followed by a PCR swab kit in September, in a bid to help the public struggling to access the UK’s national testing programme. This prompted our highest number of website visits in almost 18 years of trading.”
Due to stringent regulations around COVID testing, Medichecks built on its already robust compliance foundations, carrying out a comprehensive technical review on its CE Marking and launching a new coronavirus-specific product website with a newly integrated payment provider.
This was all amid moving premises twice – the company now has a permanent home in the Nottinghamshire suburb of Bingham in a larger complex to allow for growth and COVID-secure working.
As the brand’s reputation as a trusted partner and online retailer of choice has flourished, Medichecks has forged commercial partnerships with High Street giants, including Boots and Holland and Barrett.
Helen continued: “When I look back at what we’ve achieved since March I couldn’t be prouder of our team – we were fortunate not to lose anyone as a result of the pandemic and in fact, we’ve taken on people to cope with demand and made internal promotions, including the introduction of a new senior leadership team.
“It has been tough, particularly when we reflect on the ever-changing regulatory landscape and uncertainty around the virus, but lots of positive innovations in delivery of healthcare – particularly primary care – are now commonplace because of COVID.
“We see the healthcare landscape as having permanently shifted to one where people are taking personal responsibility for their health and being actively encouraged by the government to do so.
“Those with chronic conditions have been among the hardest hit by this pandemic, which demonstrates how important prevention is. Almost all of the underlying conditions that increase risk factors for coronavirus are preventable and, in many cases, reversible. Often, people aren’t even aware that they have a condition. This is where the role of health testing comes in – to provide the insights, advice and motivation to help them take the steps they need to improve their wellbeing.”
Medichecks has recently launched a ‘Right to Diagnosis’ campaign, as part of its commitment to help people take control of their health and live healthier lives. This initiative support Britons with conditions such as thyroid function, infertility and coeliac disease, who struggle to access help to get the correct diagnosis and treatment.