For this episode of the Microsamplify Podcast, we spoke with Caroline Priese, the Online Marketing Manager for a health & wellness company based in Germany called for you eHealth, GmbH. Since 2016, the company has been offering blood sampling test kits that can be used at home. These health kits can be ordered online directly from the company by consumers who wish to monitor their own health and take actions to improve it. Kits allow users to learn more about their biomarkers by collecting their own blood, stool, and saliva samples at home and sending the samples to a designated laboratory for testing.
Neoteryx: Hello Caroline, and welcome to the Microsamplify Podcast from Neoteryx. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us about the home health kits available from for you eHealth.
Priese: Thank you, Christa, for inviting us to your podcast and giving us the opportunity to talk about our ideas, visions and our latest product. We are very excited about this and happy that we can manage this interview despite the huge time difference. So, thank you for getting up so early just to talk to us.
Neoteryx: No problem at all! For many people, home health kits that you can order online to monitor your own health are a relatively new idea. Can you explain why for you eHealth entered this area of the health & wellness market, and tell us how the company serves consumers?
Priese: To understand why we are doing what we do, I need to take you back a little bit in our company history. Our team has been working in the segment of nutritional supplements for about 20 years now. The whole story began with a friendship between two men – one who was experienced in Orthomolecular Medicine, and the other who was experienced in business topics and had this concept to replenish nutritional deficiencies with nutritional supplements. This was in 2001.
Over the past few years, we have noticed that more and more people were curious how their nutrient supply is, if they are lacking amino acids, minerals or if they are polluted with heavy metals. At the same time, books have been published about the importance of high vitamin, amino acid and mineral levels. We noticed that people’s minds were changing from acting when health status is in a bad condition, to acting prior to feeling any symptoms. For a large group of people it was suddenly more important to restore and maintain their health than to treat symptoms.
Neoteryx: That's really interesting that there was a trend for people to become more interested in self-managing their health.
Priese: Yes, we wanted to support this idea and offer a service to our customers where they can do regular blood testing in the safety of their home, so there is no need to make an appointment at the doctor’s office, to drive there and back, and to wait again to receive the results. And what is even more important: no discussions about the necessity of such a test.
We have heard from several customers that they wanted to explore the level of a certain value within their body and that the request was rejected by a doctor as not necessary. Let me share my personal story with you. A few months ago, I wanted to know a little more about my vitamin D value, and went to the doctor’s office and asked for it. The result was a 20-minute discussion about me being healthy and not needing such a test. Even the argument that I was willing to pay for it by myself did not count. It was hopeless.
In the end, from my point of view today, it is understandable, because a doctor is there to treat you when you are sick. Improving your health is your personal challenge. And that is exactly the reason why for you eHealth is here to support our customers.
Neoteryx: I believe your company’s motto is “measure, know, and act.” What can a person measure and learn from one of your company’s health kits, and what kind of information will your team provide to help them take action?
Priese: You are right. Measure, know, act is our company motto, the core of everything we are doing and every decision we make. It all goes back to the thought that you should identify your deficiencies before you randomly start to take nutritional supplements. Because that is what they are – supplements.
Let me give you an example. If you handle the intake of 9 vitamins perfectly fine through your daily meals, and are lacking just one vitamin, a vitamin complex is not always the best decision to make. I know this is a very simple example, but I want everybody listening to understand the meaning. The problem is that you don’t know that a single vitamin supplement would be enough, if you don’t know the vitamin levels in your body. So you need to measure to know. And as soon as you know, you are able to make the right decisions for your health and can act upon it.
So back to your question: What people can gain from our health kits is exactly that knowledge about deficiencies. This is the most important part. There the journey about exploring yourself begins.
We as a company also define ourselves as partners for your health. And a partner is someone to count on, a person who is always there to give you advice when you need it the most. So we are not only telling our customer a number and showing you if you are inside or outside the reference values, we are also delivering a wide range of information concerning each biomarker that has been measured in your blood.
Neoteryx: I like this service and I wish I had known about it before for myself. Can you please explain more about the biomarkers?
Priese: Based on studies, we tell you what a certain marker is for, how it is working inside your body, and how it is interacting with other markers – all in a language everybody understands. Our texts transfer the knowledge from a technical and medical level to a common language without jargon.
We also tell you what are typical symptoms to watch out for if you lack a certain biomarker, or what happens if your values are too high. And, we also give you advice on what to do if your value is not within the “good” range. We recommend foods and nutritional supplements to help you get back on track, and we tell you how to easily implement these actions into your daily life.
In the end it all comes down to enabling you to take responsibility for your own health.
Neoteryx: You recently added Mitra® devices from Neoteryx to your new immunity test kits so that people can self-collect a blood sample at home and send it to the lab to find out how strong their immune system is. They can also purchase a COVID-19 blood test as an additional feature, I believe. Can you tell us how customers are liking those new immunity tests, and tell us what the immunity blood test measures and what it reveals?
Priese: Christa, I am more and more impressed by your German knowledge. You are understanding a lot of things from our website even though we have no English version.
Neoteryx: Thanks very much! Google translate can be very helpful!
Priese: You are addressing two very important points here: the first point is, yes, we have recently added a new test to our self-testing kit family: the for you immune panel.
It is a very special immunity test as it includes vitamins, minerals and amino acids which can be measured from one blood sample. Other tests you could buy on the market prior to our test launch were limited to measuring either minerals or vitamins. It has not been possible to buy a test kit for these different groups together. So the whole testing process is a lot more pleasant for the customer now. You are also right that we included a COVID-19 antibody component into our immune panel, which can be booked as an additional service. This is an option for everybody who’s interested in knowing if COVID-19 has already challenged their body – but maybe without symptoms. We have a colleague who has tested positive for antibodies, but had no symptoms at all.
Another application area is determining the of amount of antibodies in your system. If you know that you have had COVID-19 and want to find out if your body still hosts antibodies – our test allows you to find out. If you are unsure and want to know, you can add the COVID-19 antibody testing to your immune panel.
The second answer to your question is: yes, we added Mitra Microsampling devices to our immune panel home test kits. They are the heart of our sampling test kits in general and the most important part.
From the beginning it was important to us, to have a blood collection device which is established in the lab market and which is easy to use by the customer. These criteria were very important to us. During the evaluation process we tested several different blood collection device carriers and identified the Mitra device from Neoteryx as the most convenient one – for us, for our labs and most important, for our customers.
On one side it is easy to use. The design and packaging allow us to easily ship Mitra devices to the customer, and also for the customer to ship dried blood samples back via mail. On the other side - as we are an online business – it was really important to find a device which can be easily explained via the internet through video and pictures. Mitra is such a device. So thank you for doing such a great work.
Neoteryx: I can't take credit, but thank you very much for that. Dr. James Rudge, our technical director, and Dr. Stuart Kushon, our scientific director, put a lot of work into making the Mitra device easy to use, as you say, and easy to work with in the lab as well.
Priese: Please pass along our compliments to them.
Neoteryx: Thank you, I will! Can you take us through the steps a customer follows from ordering their kit online to receiving the kit at home, collecting a blood sample, sending it in, and then how and where they receive their results?
Priese: Sure, it’s really simple. You go to www.foryouehealth.de, navigate to the product category blood test. Here you can find a variety of different home usage test-kits: for amino acids, for minerals, for heavy metals and as I said before, our new immune panel, which is a combination of amino acids, vitamins, minerals and optional COVID-19 antibody testing. All of them include Mitra devices for blood collection.
If you are online, on each product page you can find a list of biomarkers which are measured. We have small test kits which only include 10 markers or large ones which have more than 21 markers. From that page on it works like every other online shopping platform. Put the product in your basket and choose if you want to pay via credit card, paypal or amazon pay and click the "buy" button.
Our test kits are delivered within Germany and to Austria. Even so, it is interesting that we are currently receiving samples from all over the world, for example, from Russia or Canada. The test kit is delivered via mail to your house. It includes all items you need to do the testing at home. You get a safety lancet, Mitra devices, disinfection wipes, a patch and – the most loved item: some candy, because you were brave enough to do the testing.
You use the safety lancet to create a little “finger-prick” on the side fingertip of your ring finger, discard the first blood drop and take the Mitra—still inside its case—into your other hand. Lower the Mitra device from above gently onto the drop of blood that forms on your fingertip. You will see the blood absorb onto the tip of the device. Then you close the Mitra case, and put the whole sample into a specimen bag. The sealed bag is put into an envelope, which is sent back to us via mail.
What is also important, is that you activate your sample online, so we are informed that it is on its way back to us. Therefore, you go back to the for you website, log into your account and go to test activation. Here you are asked for an activation code, which is placed on the Mitra package and which is unique. Type it in the required space and answer a few questions about yourself, for example, your age, size and gender.
As soon as your sample reaches the lab, it takes only 5-10 workdays until you will receive your results. As soon as these are ready, you get an e-mail that your results are ready for you. You just log into your account and can see all the information we have been talking about before.
Neoteryx: So just to clarify for some of our listeners, it sounds like the account is completely private, and no one else can access it. It is completely secure to the customer?
Priese: Yes, exactly. You are the only one who has the password to log into it.
Neoteryx: Very good. Once they receive their test results, what type of guidance does the customer receive from the for you eHealth team of experts to help them actively strengthen their immune system so they can fight off viruses, such as the coronavirus?
Priese: As I said before, we see ourselves and our services as health partners for our customers. This means that all information we share about biomarkers and personal results can be found in the customer’s private account. Each customer has his own dashboard where he can find personal test results.
The presentation includes different graphics. The first one is a speedometer, which shows your personal result placed according to reference ranges. The second one is a chart which shows a timeline of your results, so you can see if you got better or worse since the first test. From the second test onwards you can see this chart. Our last graphic is a chart which compares your personal result to results of the past 1,000 tests. This is important for many of our customers, because here it is possible to filter according different lifestyles, for example if you are vegan, doing sports twice a week, and so on.
Each biomarker result comes with a huge set of information about the marker itself, about recommended daily intakes, as well as food recommendations and examples for nutritional supplements. The customer can use this information to build his personal optimization plan.
We have some customers who are overwhelmed by their results, and they need some special information, for example due to some pre-existing illnesses or special cases. So what we also offer is a talk with an alternative medicine practitioner, or naturopathic doctor.
All methods aim to make your immune system strong enough to fight against bacteria and viruses.
Neoteryx: And getting back to your personal example of a lack of vitamin D, or trying to measure your vitamin D — a blood test would have caught that for you, and then the nutritional counselor or the naturopathic doctor would have advised you and guided you on how to replenish your vitamin D, correct?
Priese: Yes, at least that was my plan!
Neoteryx: Are the lab results shared with a customer’s doctor, or can they elect to share the results with their doctor?
Priese: Yes, of course they can. It is all up to the customer. The only link between the samples and your result is an activation code associated with each Mitra device package. This code matches the results sent from the lab with your personal customer account.
If the customer wishes to share his results, he can either share the login data to his account with the doctor, or he can use the printing function, generate a pdf, and take it with him to the next appointment.
Neoteryx: Your company has other health kits that include remote blood collection and microsampling as well. What are some of the other most popular kits that customers can order on your website?
Priese: Thank you for asking this! It is true. The immune panel is our newest test. We started to offer home usage test kits in 2016. The first blood test kits were for amino acid, mineral and heavy metal testing. In 2019 we started offering gut tests for home usage, where you can find out about gut bacteria, leaky gut syndrome and other issues.
Our most popular blood tests at the moment are the amino acid and mineral tests. We are still assessing how the new immune panel will develop, since it was launched quite recently.
Neoteryx: Thank you, Caroline, for speaking with us about how for you eHealth is including blood microsampling options to help people learn more about their health from the comfort of home. We’ll be sure to include some links to your website and your online kits from our website so people can find where to order them.
Priese: Thank you, for giving us the opportunity to show another way of using Mitra devices in the home usage segment. It was fun talking to you about our collaboration and who knows, maybe we will be recording another Podcast in the future.
Neoteryx: Yes, let's do that! And, thanks to our audience for listening to this episode of the Microsamplify Podcast, a partner to The Microsampling Blog from Neoteryx.
Resource links to the for you eHealth website, where you can access their home health kits:
for you eHealth GmbH, an online health & wellness company based in Germany