The Blueprint for Safe and Responsible COVID-19 Antibodies Testing
By Dr. Nicolette Mathey
If you’re a pharmacist, there’s a good chance you’ve pondered how you can do more to help the fight against COVID-19. After all, helping people is in our DNA, and it’s why we’re in the business that we’re in.
One of the most discussed topics of conversation related to COVID-19 is around testing, both for active strains of the virus and antibodies known as Immunoglobulin M (IgM) and Immunoglobulin G (IgG).
For pharmacists, testing is a tricky proposition. We want to help patients learn more about their health and well-being, but we also need to protect ourselves and our employees. We want to make the process convenient for patients, but we need to make sure we’re using a lab vendor that’s reliable, trustworthy and produces accurate results.
Knowing how important and time-sensitive testing for COVID-19 is to our population right now, I hopped on a webinar this week to talk about it with two people who are doing it right: TW Taylor and Jamie Reid of The Williamsburg Drug Company.
Both TW and Jaime have a firm belief that a pharmacist’s job should encompass much more than just filling prescriptions — instead, the pharmacist should consistently be looking for ways to optimize their patients’ health at every age and disease state.
With that mindset, it’s clear to see how safe and responsible testing for COVID-19 antibodies fits in perfectly at The Williamsburg Drug Company. The first step for TW and Jamie was finding a lab partner who they felt comfortable utilizing for the testing. Fortunately for The Williamsburg Drug Company, the pharmacy already had an existing relationship with Vibrant America, and they felt comfortable expanding that arrangement to include COVID-19 antibodies testing.
It’s important to clarify that the tests TW and Jamie conduct are different than PCR tests involving a nasal swab that look for the presence of an active virus strain. Rather, these tests include a blood draw from a licensed phlebotomist on-site and the delivery of the sample to Vibrant America for analysis.
Interestingly, less than 10% of The Williamsburg Drug Company’s patients who think they have experienced COVID-19 actually tested positive for antibodies. Those results lend credence to the amount of misinformation floating around regarding the virus itself.
One of the reasons TW and Jamie felt comfortable using Vibrant America as a lab partner was because of reliability — data shows that tests analyzed for COVID-19 in their labs are 98% accurate when the results show positive for COVID-19 antibodies and 99% accurate when they are negative. Those numbers are significantly better than the average lab’s margin for error.
The Williamsburg Drug Company relies on a cash clinical model, so it only made sense for its COVID-19 testing to follow suit. Patients, many of whom have driven 60 to 90 minutes for the test, pay $200 at the time of service. The pharmacy then provides the patient with all the information they need to file with their own insurance company for reimbursement.
In addition to providing a valuable service, COVID-19 testing gives The Williamsburg Drug Company another touchpoint to develop (or enhance) a relationship with a patient. TW says they’ve conducted about 100 tests, with another 50 already scheduled for the coming weeks.
TW and Jamie have shown that testing for COVID-19 antibodies in the pharmacy is not only possible, but it’s an added value to patients and the communities in which they live.
I’m happy to share that we recorded the webinar and that it can be accessed online exclusively by ATRIUM24 members (stay tuned for a separate email with a link and password to view). If you’re not a member but are interested in watching the webinar and learning more about ATRIUM24 membership, please fill out the form on our contact page to speak with us, and keep up the good work out there, fellow pharmacy owners!