Austin’s EverlyWell Helps Consumers Do More Health Tests at Home
Austin—Now that we consumers are used to tracking our steps and sleep via our wrists, health IT startup EverlyWell wants to take health tracking a little deeper.
The Austin, TX-based company sells what it calls “health and wellness tests”—at-home assays that check hormone levels, blood sugar, cholesterol, and more—that can help a person learn more about his or her health. Customers provide a urine, blood, or saliva sample, as required by the test, and receive the results in five days, says Julia Cheek, EverlyWell’s founder and CEO.
“This is not a substitute for sharing with your primary care physician, but it does go more in depth beyond activity and sleep tracking,” she says.
EverlyWell was founded in June 2015 and raised a $2.5 million seed round in February. In May, the startup began beta testing its products, offering eight tests that range in cost from $79 to $399. These tests measure food sensitivity, thyroid activity, and cholesterol, as well as “sleep and stress,” the presence of heavy metals in the body, and women’s health and fertility.
Customers request a kit from the startup’s website, and the request is then authorized by a member of EverlyWell’s physician network, Cheek says. That network also reviews the test results, she adds.
“We then take the reports and translate the HL7 language that is typically used in lab reports and standardize the language and share easy-to-understand results,” she says.
For example, a customer that has sent in a sample for a food allergy test will get results listed on a dashboard on EverlyWell’s site that lists the foods for which there is an allergy, along with a suggested game plan for how to eliminate those irritants from your diet.
“When we offer guidance, we just look at the objective evidence,” says Murdoc Khaleghi, the startup’s chief medical officer. “This is all peer-reviewed, well-respected evidence among medical specialists. We’ll even refer the articles and literature around those markers so customers can take a deep dive.”
Three months into the company’s beta, EverlyWell says it has 1,500 customers—85 percent are women—in 45 states. Fifteen percent of those customers have ordered multiple test kits, Cheek says. EverlyWell, she adds, offers a cheaper and more simple option for many of the routine tests you’d do in a doctor’s office.
She says EverlyWell’s group of health and wellness test kits is the natural progression of health-related tests that consumers take at home, from pregnancy tests and HIV tests in the last 20 years, to genetic tests more recently.
The high-profile implosion of Theranos has brought testing companies additional scrutiny, but Cheek says EverlyWell has felt no impact because the startup uses existing, widely accepted testing methods, and that all of its network labs have proper federal certifications under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA). “The customer wants to know, is this as accurate as what our doctors order,” she says. “The answer is yes. We’ve been very transparent.”
EverlyWell was originally founded in Dallas, but Cheek says she moved the company to Austin following advice from investors in the startup’s seed round in February. A former executive at MoneyGram in Dallas, Cheek says she was inspired to found EverlyWell last year when she had a period of unexplainable chronic fatigue and aches and pains.
“I saw five different specialists who couldn’t figure it out,” she says. “I ended up with a $2,000 bill and a stack of papers that were difficult to read.”