Axa is piloting medical screening in pharmacies for its protection products with access to innovative, non-invasive techniques including needle-free skin tests, saliva tests and hair analysis.
The screenings, which will be used when discretionary medicals or blood tests are needed, are designed to be more convenient than traditional nurse or GP appointments.
The six-month pilot is being run in conjunction with specialist testing company Gemini Biomedical and aims to cut turnaround times for medical information from 25-30 days for GPRs to around 10 days for pharmacy screening results, meaning even consumers with a complex medical history should get on risk more quickly.
As well as traditional screening such as height, weight, waist measurement, urine and blood, Axa will be able to request a range of cutting-edge non-invasive tests.
These presently include use of oral fluid tests for smoking (cotinine), HIV, Hepatitis and recent drug use, with plans to extend their use for markers of diabetes and alcohol abuse in the near future. A few strands of hair can be tested to give an historical profile of drug and alcohol use, providing insight into lifestyle risks.
The service will soon offer needle-free skin swabs to test for cholesterol, and a simple infra-red finger scan replacing an ECG to assess arterial health, helping underwriters identify people who may be at risk of heart disease.
Consumers who need screening will be contacted by Gemini Biomedical to set up a convenient appointment with their local pharmacist. All screenings will take place in private consulting rooms and will last around 20 minutes.
Axa chief underwriter Mike Taylor says: “Pharmacy testing should be more convenient for most consumers who can arrange a test near their home or work, which avoids disrupting their daily routines to fit around a nurse’s or GP’s schedule. Faster turnaround times of results will speed up the application process for protection products, allowing us to get policies on risk more quickly.”