Switch Health + Purolator
Switch Health co-founder Marc Thomson wears many hats. He’s responsible for everything from supply chain logistics, to product development, to everyday business operations. The company’s ethos is to decentralize healthcare. When COVID-19 emerged, this was all the more critical.
We spoke with Marc about his close-knit partnership with Purolator. He shared how Purolator’s Mission Critical service offered the fastest shipping and most complete network coverage that could reach 99.9% of Canadian residences. Together, Switch Health and Purolator rolled out a fast-paced pandemic response.
The story of Switch Health
Switch Health is a health tech consultancy with a mission to create better patient experiences for everybody. It’s first venture when it launched in 2017 was to break down healthcare data silos for people with diabetes.
Glucose monitoring is primarily done at home by the individual. To make managing this illness easier, Switch Health created and distributed modern diagnostic devices. Replacing the existing process, which relied on disparate tools and corporations, Switch Health offered an aggregated and secure solution. This early initiative became a template for how the company could decentralize medical testing, diagnostics and monitoring.
Purolator helped Switch Health achieve:
Switch Health’s network includes:
Reaching every Canadian during a crisis
With the emergence of COVID-19, Switch Health saw an opportunity to make a meaningful impact using its model of decentralized care. As a start, it launched mobile clinics for at-risk communities. This allowed people to receive care closer to home and avoid potential exposure to the virus when gathering at testing and treatment sites.
Then Switch Health conceptualized a program to deliver at-home COVID-19 test kits, coupled with a virtual care platform. With this program, more people could avoid having to gather at clinics, while still accessing important health information. Health Canada approved Switch Health’s Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests, so next, it needed to create a distribution and retrieval plan.
To achieve this, Switch Health needed a shipping partner that was up to the task. Essential to success was a shipping partner who could offer the fastest shipping times and extensive network coverage to reach across Canada. The rollout needed to reach rural and remote communities, such as Indigenous communities in hard-to-reach regions.
The shipping partner would need to meet high safety standards and have proper training in handling dangerous goods too. Although Switch Health’s test kits use a method that neutralizes the virus, carriers retrieving the test kits could have the extra peace of mind that comes from robust safety protocols.
The company was targeting a 10-day national rollout that included picking up residential test kits from every province and returning them to diagnostic facilities.
Delivering at-home test kits with fastest shipping
Recognizing Switch Health’s need for a Canadian logistics partner with an extensive network to reach all Canadians, Jason Mohammed from Purolator engaged Switch Health in December 2020. Their partnership connected a Canadian integrator with an innovative healthcare company specializing in decentralized healthcare product offerings with a virtual digital platform.“Purolator built a customized residential recovery solution to expand Switch Health’s healthcare network across Canada,” said Jason.
The residential recovery network was a customized shipping solution that could reach 100% of Switch Health’s patients across Canada. It combined Purolator’s extensive standard shipping network, plus Mission Critical, a service that could complete pickups in even the most isolated regions in Canada.
The initiative moved quickly. “We committed to this solution within 10 days, and we rolled it out and officially launched within six weeks,” Marc shared. The tightly-knit collaboration led to the launch success. To ensure the utmost safety, Purolator brought in expertise from its health and safety teams, dangerous goods experts and Chief Medical Director.
Marc was determined to deliver a seamless patient experience, one that met the level of a commercial direct-to-consumer service. That meant everyone involved needed comprehensive knowledge of the program. Marc explained, “If a patient is confused about the process, or maybe English is not their first language, they can reach out to anyone in this field of custody – from Purolator or Switch Health – and be directed to the right method of escalation.”
Achieving an expansive pandemic response
Switch Health’s pandemic response helped control community spread in a huge way. It administered over 1 million at-home test kits. Through the tests, it identified 8,500+ positive cases.
The health tech company didn’t stop there. Switch Health pitched an innovative solution to test for COVID-19 on essential and non-essential inbound travel into Canada. For this, Switch Health was awarded a CAD $100 million agreement with the federal government.
What advice does Marc have for companies with similar ambitions and challenges? “Don’t take no for an answer. With enough smarts and enough willpower, there’s always a way to make things happen. I think when you put the patient first in all corners of your decision making, that really helps fuel you to make the right decisions and get things across the line.”
Bringing COVID-19 tracing to peoples’ homes:
The future of telehealth and healthcare logistics
After the success of their rollout, Switch Health will continue to build off the model of at-home testing for more health needs. Soon, it will launch programs for HPV, STI and pregnancy health checks. Marc wants to make life easier for any patient, no matter what they’re struggling with. He says: “People no longer compare their latest healthcare experience to their last. They compare it to their last consumer experience. We continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible.”
“Together we supported a federal initiative. We responded to a virus we’ve never faced before in our lifetime. That speaks volumes. And to do this, we needed a cross-functional team on our end to leverage our internal resources. None of us could do this alone. When you emphasize that partnership, it was an incredible journey that supported our mission to serve the Canadian population.”
Senior Sales Executive, Purolator