By Joe Southern
When Doug Conquest came to Texas six years ago from the United Kingdom for his job in the oil and gas industry, he eventually found himself in need of medical attention.
Part of his treatment required a lab test. He became quite dismayed when he discovered that through the complexity of the American healthcare and insurance systems that he could not shop around for a lab or even find out the cost of the test until after the test was done.
“It’s interesting how the medical system works here,” he said.
The sticker shock over the lab bill led him to seek alternatives. That’s when he discovered Any Lab Test Now, a direct access lab testing company that empowers consumers to monitor their health and wellness. He was so impressed with the simplicity and transparency of the operation that he and his wife, Paola Serna, started a franchise in Sugar Land.
“We can do more than 8,000 different medical tests through this business,” he said.
Located near the Sugar Land Mall in a store at 15910-C Lexington Blvd., the Any Lab Test Now Sugar Land location opened its doors in February and will have its grand opening on April 27. They offer standard clinical lab tests, drug tests, paternity tests, men’s and women’s wellness, STD and HIV testing, pre-employment drug screening and more. Among those are the new DNA ancestry tests, where a person provides a saliva sample and the results will tell them where their ancestors came from.
Conquest said they do not take insurance and payment is due up front. By doing this they can keep costs down and extend the savings to the customer.
“Because we don’t deal with insurance we have a lot less administrative burden,” he said. This also allows Any Lab Test Now to provide the customer with a price upfront, avoiding any surprise bills for the customer later.
Prices for the more common tests are listed on a board in the lobby. All costs are made known upfront. The company provides transparent and inexpensive prices for consumers that have no insurance or high deductible insurance, or are simply wanting to monitor their health proactively.
“We have very transparent pricing,” Conquest said.
He said their prices typically match those of competing labs and are very often lower because the prices aren’t hidden behind the healthcare bureaucracy.
“People have more control over their own testing,” Conquest said. “They don’t have to have a doctor’s order, we provide it for them.”
Any Lab Test Now provides a doctor’s order for the lab tests (they use the same specialty labs most doctors and hospitals use), or they will accept the customer’s physician’s order. Conquest said a customer may choose who receives the test results. They can have the tests done for themselves without anyone else knowing.
“It doesn’t go to your doctor unless you want it to,” he said.
Of course he does have secure portals set up with most labs, doctors and hospitals so test results can be shared with a customer’s physician if needed.
As for customer service, Any Lab Test Now strives to provide quick, confidential and dependable service in a relaxed and comfortable setting.
“Our target is to have people in and out within 15 minutes,” he said.
He said most results are back within 48-72 hours depending on the test.
“All the labs we use are accredited,” Conquest said.
In addition to being customer friendly, Any Lab Test Now is also community friendly. Conquest said one of the main drivers of the business is being able to support charities, especially those focused on childrens welfare. Among them is the Grant-A-Starr Foundation, for which they recently sponsored a 5k running race in Sugar Land.
“We get involved with charities like that where we can offer more than financial support,” he said, noting that the most benefit can be provided where there are synergies with the charity, for example by providing tests and screenings for some of the agencies they partner with.
Conquest and his wife are striving to become active in the community and hope one day to be citizens.
“We came over here for work but we consider this home now,” Paola Serna said. “Hopefully we will be citizens soon.”
Serna is a native of Venezuela. She moved to France and then to the United Kingdom to take a job as a chemical engineer. It was there that she met Conquest. In 2010 they were transferred to Houston and have been here ever since.
They invite the public to come to their grand opening on April 27. They will kick it off with all-day specials including free B12 vitamin shots and 50 percent off all tests. The Fort Bend Chamber Of Commerce ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at 4 p.m.