Quest Diagnostics is all about the data

Kelly Dawson
January 18, 2018
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If there’s one term we’ve all grown accustomed to in recent years, it’s data.

Data is what’s gathered from our Google searches, our social media posts, our shopping habits, even our Netflix binges. It’s collected, it’s migrated, it’s hacked. And for the most part, it makes us feel weary.

But here’s the thing about Quest Diagnostics: when it’s referring to data, you know that you can breathe easy. Unlike the mostly headache-inducing headlines on the topic, this company provides peace of mind by using data to improve our health. Through in-depth research, reliable testing, and careful analysis of the world’s most pressing health concerns, Quest Diagnostics activates the information it finds by using it to label and treat diseases, better manage health care services, and influence positive health habits across the country. In other words, Quest Diagnostics uses data for the greater good.

As the leading provider of its namesake information services — which affects about one in three Americans every year — Quest Diagnostics is at the helm of health innovations. It’s ensuring that even more diseases are no longer viewed as death sentences and that the average citizen can continue to expect to see their seventh or perhaps eighth decade. When life appears to be dictated by numbers, and a term as vague and vast as data, Quest Diagnostics is giving us hope that there’s still humanity amid the advancement.

It’s in your blood

Fifty years ago, in April 1967, Paul Brown was a pathology resident at New York Presbyterian Hospital when he made a notable observation: there just wasn’t a lot of regulation involved with drawing someone’s blood. He wanted to find a way to streamline the process of lab testing in hospitals to make it safer and more reliable, so he got a $500 loan from his father-in-law and opened Metropolitan Pathology Laboratories.

MetPath, as it was known, provided outpatient lab testing from a small apartment in Washington Heights — so small, in fact, that a bathtub was the staining area for Pap test slides regarding cervical cancer. Brown’s idea reduced the costs to patients and increased the accuracy of the reporting, so it wasn’t long before others took notice. In 1982, high-tech glass and fiber optics producer Corning Glass Works came knocking and acquired Brown’s business with the new name Corning Clinical Laboratories. The company went big in 1997 by spinning off its labs under its current moniker and hitting the stock exchange with $1.5 billion in revenue. From there, Quest Diagnostics had one acquisition after the other.

Beginning with its purchase of SmithKline Beecham Clinical Labs in 1999, which made it the leading provider of lab services, Quest Diagnostics has made quite the splash since leaving its “garage phase” bathtub behind. Other major scoops through the years — like the Nichols Institute in 1994, Focus Laboratories in 2006, and most recently Athena Diagnostics in 2011, among others — have leveraged its concern for clarity and safety into a wide-ranging business that oversees a great deal of health topics. Most remarkably, its lab work has positively impacted the understanding and treatment of cancer and HIV.

But even without a lab coat and stethoscope, curious minds can still get the inside scoop on what Quest Diagnostics is working on. Alongside its cutting-edge lab work, the company has also made it a mission to inform anyone who wants to learn. In 1988, it began publishing the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index, a database of de-identified drug test results. There’s also Quest Diagnostics Health Trends, which breaks down any sort of health-related topic. Since the company has always been about efficiency, it’s easy to see why education is a part of its work. Simply, informed patients make better participants in the drive to find better health.

It’s always hard to predict a company’s future, and Quest Diagnostics is no different. But the company’s stance on the overall improvement of its industry happened to coincide with optimal timing in technology. From a $500 start, Quest Diagnostics reported more than $7 billion in revenue last year, with 43,000 employees in more than 130 countries. And as for that small Manhattan apartment, it has moved on to nicer digs: a 200,000-square-foot lab in Massachusetts is currently where things get done.

I’m gonna live forever

Let’s talk about exactly what’s getting done these days. In two words: a lot. Quest Diagnostics completes thousands of laboratory needs, from blood tests that screen for diabetes to genetic tests that determine patients’ cancer risks, for up to five million people every day. Most of these tests are ordered by healthcare professionals on behalf of their patients — in response to symptoms, family history, chronic conditions, or lifestyle — and about 70 percent of all resulting medical decisions are based on their findings.

The scope of doctors who work alongside Quest Diagnostics’s services covers everything that the body may entail. In all, Quest Diagnostics provides more than 3,500 screenings and tests and assists doctors with 650 trained company specialists in their assessments. Funny enough, there are as many available tests and screenings as there are trucks that get those specimens from doctors’ offices to the labs themselves. It’s a huge production with a solitary, familiar goal: that knowledge is power.

This year, Quest Diagnostics reached its 50 anniversary with a renewed focus on improving the human condition. The company is focusing on genetics and precision medicine to improve the diagnoses and treatments around cancer, cardiovascular disease, rare disorders, and reproductive health. Cancer and heart disease are the two leading causes of death in the country.

The company also hopes to improve hospital health systems with better access to diagnostics at a low cost — a modern throwback to its original task — and help equip consumers with at-home testing connected to mobile results. As for data, Quest Diagnostics currently has about 20 billion test results. It’s going to use that data to heighten care across every facet of the industry. And by the way, the company is also interested in areas like gene sequencing and artificial intelligence.

Data may come in many forms, but under the guidance of Quest Diagnostics, its use is only going to enhance our lives in its most basic form. Thanks to its innovative labs, we can move into the future with a better understanding of how to grasp what’s beyond the numbers: the universal desire to live a healthy, long life.

There are more than 250 companies in our combined portfolios, and they are all making amazing advancements. From names you know, like Tesla, to those little gems you haven’t heard of yet, like Xylem, we want you to know all about what your holdings are up to. These ‘deep dives’ will help you understand what you’re invested into and how your dollars are making the world a better place.

Quest Diagnostics is part of our Healthy Living portfolio.

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