BD acquires Scanwell Health to go deeper into at-home testing

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The other day I suddenly started to not feel great; my chest was a little tight and I could feel the rumblings of a cough beginning. My first thought, of course, was, “I really hope this isn’t COVID.” Luckily, I was able to get a rapid at-home test delivered same day from Walgreens and it came back negative.

I was fortunate to be able to do that, because many people can’t: tests are in such short supply that lines are sometimes around the block. That’s why the Biden administration has now revealed that it would be supplying 500 million at-home tests for free, something that should have been done a long time ago. 

It’s in this climate that technology companies are stepping up to develop their own at-home COVID tests; that includes companies like Everlywell, and global medical technology company Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD), which partnered with Scanwell Health earlier this year to develop the BD Veritor At-Home COVID-19 Test, which uses a smartphone camera and app to capture and interpret results.

Now, BD wants to go even further into at-home testing, so it announced on Tuesday that it acquired Scanwell Health outright, and that the company will now be the underlying technology for that segment of BD’s business going forward. 

Founded in 2018, Scanwell Health developed at-home tests including those for COVID, as well as urinary tract infections and chronic kidney disease, that incorporated a person’s smartphone. Users get their test delivered to the home and connect it to the Scanwell App, then they’d collect their sample and receive results in minutes on their phone.  

In February, BD and Scanwell revealed that they were working together to create an at-home rapid test for SARS-CoV-2, combining a BD antigen test and the Scanwell Health mobile app; this became the BD Vertitor test, which actually uses the smartphone as the analyzer to digitally interpret the test results, unlike other COVID-19 home tests that also use smartphones as part of their process.

In addition, the app can  store and report test results to organizations, and the test results are stored in the app so they can be referenced and displayed.

Going forward, BD plans on using Scanwell’s technology as the foundation to develop at-home diagnostic tests for diseases beyond COVID, including group A strep and others. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift to new care settings, and BD is ready to deliver a smart, connected at-home diagnostic ecosystem to support traditional and telehealth providers and consumers,” Dave Hickey, president of Life Sciences for BD, said in a statement.

“This acquisition will enable us to expand and scale our digital capabilities in-house to speed time to market for transformative at-home solutions now and in the future.”

Founded in 1897, BD has 70,000 employees globally, with a presence in virtually every country. The company partners with organizations to address global health issues. 

Prior to this acquisition, the Los Angeles-based Scanwell Health had raised $3.6 million in venture funding from investors that included Liquid 2 Ventures, DCM Ventures, Mayfield Fund, Pioneer Fund, Founders Fund, and Y Combinator, among others. No financial terms of the acquisition were disclosed.

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