Kroger Health, the healthcare division of The Kroger Co., announced July 1 that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit, which combines the convenience of at-home sample collection with the expert guidance of a telehealth consultation to help improve the quality of the collection process.
Beginning this week and based on medical need, the COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit will be available to front-line associates across Cincinnati-based Kroger’s Family of Companies. Kroger Health plans to rapidly expand the availability of the home collection kits to other companies and organizations in the coming weeks, through a partnership with Gravity Diagnostics, a full-service clinical laboratory located in Covington, K.Y. Their goal is to process up to 60,000 tests per week by the end of July.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the safety of our associates and our customers has remained our top priority,” said Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health. “Kroger Heath remains committed to helping people live healthier lives through our multi-disciplinary team of licensed, trained and experienced healthcare providers.”
Kroger Health has been offering public drive-thru and walk-up COVID-19 testing sites since April, and has administered more than 100,000 tests across 19 states. However, Kroger has “observed some individuals do not have access to transportation or live near these community testing locations. To help ease this burden and provide greater accessibility, we will be offering a home testing solution to our associates first, followed by other companies and organizations,” Lindholz said.
How the Home Collection Kit Works
The COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit is performed under the supervision of a licensed healthcare professional. It is available at no cost to individuals who meet established clinical criteria for likely COVID-19 infection or exposure.
Qualification is determined via an online assessment. Individuals will be provided access to a website where they will answer screening questions, input their organization’s benefit code and an individual code, such as an employee ID, and complete a clinical assessment. If an individual qualifies, a healthcare professional will issue a prescription and the home collection kit will be shipped to their home within 24-48 hours.
The home collection kit includes a nasal swab, transport vial, instruction sheet, prepaid shipping label and packing materials for return shipment of the sample to the laboratory. A healthcare professional will guide the recipient through the home collection process via telehealth (a two-way video chat) to ensure the proper technique is used. The sample must be then sent to the laboratory for processing, which on average takes 24-48 hours.
If a test is negative for an active COVID-19 infection, results are released to the individual’s electronic medical record portal or via a phone call, depending on preference. If a test result is positive, a healthcare professional will contact them via phone to provide a recommended course of care.
Test results will only be accessible to the individual and only shared with their organization if authorization is given to release their results. All results are reported to government health agencies as required by law.
The Kroger Health COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit will initially be available in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia. Additional states will be added in the coming weeks.