Your next health-related test may not be administered by a doctor, or a nurse. It doesn’t have to be done at a sterile doctor’s office or hospital. Thanks to a new startup called Know., you can get greater knowledge about your skin, cholesterol, thyroid and more with at-home lab tests you can administer yourself.
Jill Mani, a medical student and Know.’s founder, was inspired to start the company after seeing her sister, who suffers from hyperthyroidism, shuttle back and forth to the doctor’s office every few months for tests—tests that, without insurance, could cost up to $1,000 for every visit. “She’s a student, like me, and most of us have pretty busy schedules,” Mani said. “I just wanted to help people like her, and most people who have busy schedules nowadays, have an easier time.”
Know.’s creation is also following a trend that has seen more and more people look to the internet to solve their health woes, rather than going straight to the doctor, according to Know.’s COO, Peter Pedram. “The younger demographic now, their doctor is Google,” he said. “They try to research everything themselves.”
Of course, Know.’s tests are not a complete substitute for the in-person attention of a medical professional. They are not diagnostic measures, and they cannot predict what might happen to a person’s health in the future. What they do is provide greater knowledge of what’s going on in your body: What hormonal imbalances are causing skin issues? What food sensitivities are causing migraines or bloating? These answers are basic parts of a person’s health, but oftentimes in the past it took a doctor’s visit to discover, Mani said. The hope is that this awareness will empower people at the doctor, or allow them to curate their trips to the doctor for routine tests a bit more selectively.
“The more I’ve learned, the more I’ve realized that people can do it for themselves,” Mani said. “You don’t need a doctor coming to your house just to tell you basic information. It’s a very liberating and educating experience.”
The company just launched in May and currently offers five tests—food sensitivity, skin vitality (the most popular choice), cholesterol and lipids, sleep and stress, and thyroid—with plans to get that number up to 12 in the next few weeks.
As Mani is still in medical school, she cannot perform the lab tests herself. Instead, Know. has partnered with a network of doctors to conduct the tests. When a customer requests a test, their data is uploaded through a HIPAA-compliant, secure API to the network. A doctor who practices in the customer’s state writes what’s essentially a digital prescription, Pedram said, which allows Know. to ship out the test to the customer. After they take the test, they ship it to a lab partner (in a pre-paid envelope) for processing. The partner has access to the backend of Know.’s website, and once they complete the test, they can upload the results for the customer to see.
Throughout the process, the customer only interacts with Know., unless something out-of-the-ordinary is discovered during testing—high cholesterol, for example. In that case, they can set up a call with the lab partner to discuss their results in greater depth and “guide them through the process,” Pedram said. Even if the results weren’t concerning health-wise, Know. will offer recommendations on next steps and can connect them with a doctor if a prescription is needed.
Millennials are the key demographic the Know. team is focusing on when marketing the product, Pedram said, adding that the social media marketing has been a focus. He’s also had past success in working with influencers, so Know. has incorporated those partnerships into its marketing strategy, particularly with those that reach a millennial audience, as well as influencers who are parents, to spread the word. Though Know.’s priority is a younger demographic, Mani said that they’re hoping to connect with a wide swath of people as the company continues to grow. “The different tests can reach different people, so it’s good for targeting anyone who can benefit.”
As Mani said: “Everything is more accessible now, and I don’t see why this shouldn’t be, as well.”