Quest Diagnostics is testing its ability to be the world's leading clinical lab. The company performs diagnostics on some 146 million specimens each year, including routine clinical tests such as cholesterol checks, Pap smears, HIV screenings, and drug tests. Quest Diagnostics also performs esoteric testing (such as genetic screening) and anatomic pathology testing (such as tissue biopsies for cancer testing). In all, the company serves half of the physicians and hospitals in the US as well as government agencies and other clinical labs. Quest Diagnostics has more than 2,000 patient service centers where samples are collected, and the Quest Diagnostic Nichols Institute where new diagnostics are developed.
While more than 95% of sales come from the US market, Quest aims for its international operations to eventually account for more than 10% of revenues. The firm is especially focused on expanding in the developing world, where the diagnostic testing market is more fragmented. Key growth markets outside the US include India, Ireland, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the UK.
Quest strives to make itself ubiquitous, with a comprehensive menu of tests (more than 3,000) and a network of labs and collection sites that blanket the US. In addition to its own patient service centers where samples are collected, the company maintains a staff of 3,000 field phlebotomists who collect blood samples in physicians' offices. It also provides pathology testing services and staffing within hospitals. Other workers include the contracted paramedical examiners who conduct examinations for life insurance applicants.
While more than 90% of Quest's revenue comes from its testing services, the company also offers a number of other products and services. Its online data management system, the Care360 physician portal, lets doctors order diagnostic tests, review results, prescribe medication, and manage patient files, while its Care360EHR is an electronic health record product. Quest also offers software that helps patients schedule tests and assess their results. A small portion of sales comes from providing testing services to drug companies' clinical trials. Additionally, Quest provides global testing and risk assessment services for the life insurance industry.
Despite its lofty position in the clinical testing market, Quest has been conducting cost-cutting measures to keep its competitive edge. Programs launched in 2010 streamlined processes and reduced the workforce slightly in response to reduced testing volumes. Settlement of a civil lawsuit in early 2011 pulled down the net income for the year, and acquisitions tied up some of the company's cash flow.
Quest keeps looking to grow its reach by acquiring firms with complementary locations or testing capabilities. However, it is also working to build up its specialized testing products and diagnostic development efforts. Quest is especially focused on growing its product line in the esoteric and gene-based testing markets, which are experiencing increasing product demand in areas such as cancer diagnostics and personalized medicine (using genetic tests to determine the most effective medication regimens).
Quest has also been working to enhance its line of point-of-care diagnostics. Such point-of-care tests are increasing in popularity because they can be performed at the bedside or in the doctor's office and produce results more quickly.
Mergers & Acquisitions
Towards that end, the company has made a number of acquisitions that have increased its presence in specific testing categories, such as cancer biopsy tests. In 2011 Quest expanded into another specialist category with the acquisition of genetic testing firm Athena Diagnostics from Thermo Fisher Scientific for $740 million. Offering some 350 esoteric diagnostics for neurological conditions, including Alzheimer's disease and spinal muscular atrophy, Athena became Quest's base for neurology diagnostics.
To bring genetic diagnostics development closer in-house, Quest acquired Celera for $327 million in 2011. The purchase included Celera's Berkeley HeartLab (cardiovascular tests), a pipeline of diagnostic products, a handful of marketed specialty test products, and a vault full of discovered genetic biomarkers that have the potential to be used as diagnostics. – less