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The Value of Using an Independent Laboratory

by Dr. Chris Cherubino

Medical Director, ARCpoint Labs

Dr Chis Cherubino Cherubino Health Center

Throughout the last several years, I’ve become deeply involved in the business and science of independent, consumer laboratories. These independent laboratories are becoming more popular in the marketplace and have a few advantages over their big-box cousins – the Quests and Labcorps of the world.

But do you need a local lab? In my opinion, yes. Here’s why:

Access to a specialized and curated test menu

Independent laboratories have the advantage of being ‘lab agnostic’. This means that they have the ability to send samples to a wide variety of specialized testing laboratories. These testing laboratories have the benches, machines, and scientists you’re probably picturing right now, but because each one has a small test menu of specialty tests, they can specialize and focus on scientific innovation, rather than high volume.

A great example is in micronutrient testing. If you want to know if you’re zinc deficient, the corporate lab way of measuring that is in serum (the space outside your cells), but this doesn’t give you any information about whether or not your body is actually using zinc. These specialty labs have invented tests that look inside your cells for functional levels of zinc – and lots of other vitamins and minerals, too.

Independent laboratories act as the external access point to the wide world of unusual and amazing tests. Whether you’re interested in food allergies, mold sensitivities, or hormone values, an independent laboratory can provide the path.

Healthcare information access

Have you ever wondered how you’re doing between visits to your PCP? Your cholesterol was a little off at your last appointment, but now it’s been six months. Would you like to check in and see what kind of improvements you’ve made from all that extra exercise?

With an independent lab, you can – even if your insurance says it’s too soon. Independent laboratories have the advantage of operating outside the typical insurance system. This means that they have never signed binding contracts that force them to follow the (highly inflated) insurance fee schedule and restrictive testing calendar that most larger laboratories must.

However, because they still offer health services, you can use an HSA or FSA for your tests. Either way, you’ll get up front pricing and never have to guess at your co-insurance or deductible.

Graphic of a simple molecule on a white background representing Independent Laboratory

Education and Interpretation

Independent laboratories come in lots of shapes and sizes, but if you visit an ARCpoint Labs location, you’ll get something special: educational interpretation of your results, with every raw test report.

One of the principles I’ve fostered at ARCpoint is that curated information is more meaningful than information alone. If I gave you a list of out-of-range values, that would be much less helpful than giving you them and telling you what they mean. That’s why I’ve invented a system by which each test ordered at an ARCpoint location comes with a summary report, written by one of our team physicians from around the country. These summaries include important information about what your results mean and what to do next, including additional tests or referrals when appropriate. In this way, you can take control of your healthcare journey and make decisions driven by data.

In the world of progressive healthcare, indicators fuel action. With additional information about the internal chemistry and physiology of your body, you’ll be in a position to make your future healthcare interactions meaningful and be a smart self-advocate.

Independent labs, in concert with a functional health partner, like the ones we have here at Cherubino Health Center, can start you on your journey.

In Health,

Dr. Chris

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