High-Tech’s Business Model Hasn’t Worked for the Cue Covid Test
“I’ve bought this,” coos Gal Gadot in Cue Health’s Tremendous Bowl Tv set business. Cue hired the “Wonder Woman” actress to be the voice of the company’s new substantial-tech covid-19 tests device. The advert pushes the idea that the at-dwelling covid examination creates benefits equal in accuracy to a lab-based PCR examination and surpasses it in convenience.
What it does not point out is the price: $249 for the reusable product and $195 for a pack of a few assessments.
Even as the amount of covid situations waned during the wintertime, lots of folks who observed the adverts wondered no matter whether the gadget — no make a difference how effortless or technologically wondrous it might be — has the correct strategy. Large-tech startups keen to disrupt the well being treatment business are relying on a tried using-and-legitimate promoting tactic: value it significant for early adopters and then reduce the rate as the industry grows.
To get the Cue take a look at, users swab their nostrils with a specific wand, insert the wand into a cartridge, and then the cartridge into a white, dice-formed reader. In just 20 minutes, benefits are transmitted through Bluetooth to Cue’s smartphone app. Those who acquire a $900 yearly membership can access a doctor via the application, to certify the final results as legitimate for travel or other needs.
A highly correct at-dwelling covid examination unquestionably has its strengths. And Cue, a publicly traded organization based in San Diego, suggests that 97.8% of the time its check final results agreed with a good PCR lab test final result, still deemed amongst the most exact. (The price of a PCR examination varies but can be $100 or additional, and effects usually acquire at the very least 24 several hours, though more quickly final results can be obtained for more money.)
But even the most affordable pricing — yearlong subscriptions, which get started at $480 for 10 assessments (and a discounted gadget for $149) — is significantly extra than the value of much less-exact antigen assessments, which Us citizens can now often procure at no charge.
Cue’s selling price puts it out of the attain of most buyers. But it suits an elite organization model that seeks to attract consideration and assumes that the rate will fall at some place as the market place grows and demand from customers rises.
For now, except companies offer them, individuals have to foot the bill for the Cue checks due to the fact wellness insurance plan firms, which typically protect lab-based mostly PCR exams and quick antigen checks, do not reimburse policyholders for the Cue procedure. “We are proactively doing the job with wellness insurance policy corporations to get protection for Cue Wellbeing answers,” explained Dan Financial institution, a organization spokesperson. But the enterprise has however to announce an arrangement with any insurance company.
Even though Cue’s Tremendous Bowl commercial implies that its tests solution is aimed for the at-house user, its major consumer has been the Section of Defense, despite the fact that its govt deal has ended. The exam has also been picked up by sporting activities leagues and business enterprises getting units for their personnel, including Important League Baseball, the Countrywide Basketball Association, Netflix, and Google.
In the initial quarter of 2022, non-governing administration income grew to 98% of income, or $175.8 million out of a full of $179.4 million. Web cash flow for the quarter was $2.8 million, compared with $13 million for the exact same quarter last year, as the corporation stepped up spending on staff, internet marketing, and product advancement. 2nd-quarter profits is also expected to drop, the business said, slipping to about $50 million.
The organization, which bought inventory to the community previous yr, has observed its share cost (enviable inventory symbol HLTH) drop from $22 at its September debut to all around $5.
The company’s other, even much more basic, challenge is that much less people are interested in getting examined for covid routinely. “There was enthusiasm when covid was in entire swing, but now that persons sense the omicron strain is not so lousy, the emphasis on tests has altered,” claimed Charles Rhyee, an analyst with Cowen. (Cowen, a Wall Street investment decision company, helped take Cue general public but does not have a fiscal romantic relationship with the organization.)
It’s possible, he explained, that Cue is like other businesses that zoomed through the pandemic only to fall to Earth. “The business is by now looking like Peloton, and a lot of that feeling is now baked into the value of the stock,” Rhyee stated.
Cue factors out that covid testing is just the very first use of its product. It wishes to acquire and receive Food and drug administration approval for other checks that can use the $249 unit, including for flu respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV fertility and pregnancy. If a flu check arrived back beneficial, Cue officers explained, the smartphone application may be capable to link the client to a medical professional early enough to receive the reward from getting an anti-flu medication such as Tamiflu.
“Just like at-dwelling being pregnant checks totally adjusted how girls get solutions and glucose meters without end altered how diabetics check their glucose concentrations, we believe the paradigm has forever shifted for infectious illness testing at dwelling, and Cue is perfectly positioned to fulfill these wants,” Lender stated.
Nevertheless none of those people exams will be readily available or create any earnings in 2022. The organization expects to post assessments for influenza A and B in late summer or autumn. The business has pointed out that the pace at which it can consider new sorts of checks to present the Food and drug administration could be adversely affected by the prevalence of covid, potentially limiting its means to locate check topics or have personnel in its amenities.
To enhance sales, the enterprise in February reduced the price tag of its regular membership and unique assessments by $15.
But Charles Rhyee thinks a lot bigger price cuts are essential for accomplishment. The quick-expression resolution, he stated, is for Cue to give its reader system at low or no price and make its funds from exams, working with a common advertising procedure that predated the large-tech period by practically a century: the razor-razor blade model, in which the serious income is built on superior-priced blades following selling customers a low-priced proprietary manage to maintain them.
KHN (Kaiser Health and fitness Information) is a nationwide newsroom that provides in-depth journalism about overall health issues. Collectively with Policy Examination and Polling, KHN is just one of the a few important running applications at KFF (Kaiser Spouse and children Basis). KFF is an endowed nonprofit firm supplying data on well being difficulties to the nation.
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