Why crowdsourcing can unlock the COVID-19 test bottleneck

October 5, 2020  |  Greg Stein  | 


You are running a 103 temperature and struggling to breathe. Despite your delirium, you drive to a COVID testing site where the line is so long that it stretches several city blocks.

And then you wait.

And wait.

And wait.

But the wait for the test is nothing compared to the lag to get test results. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, delays in test results were as bad as 19 days. By then, you have either checked into a hospital, recovered, or were quarantined for no reason. Or worse, you gave up mid-quarantine and infected your elderly neighbor.

There is a better way.

The solution is to distribute testing through the primary care clinician’s existing healthcare infrastructure. In early 2020, when we knew far less about COVID-19, it was not appropriate for everyday clinics to handle a potentially deadly and extremely contagious disease. But now it is time to shift the paradigm back to the way healthcare operates most efficiently – away from the emergency room and into the primary care setting.

How will the individual primary care Doc get test kits and receive test results when giant institutions such as hospital labs, public agencies, and major labs are doing everything they can to keep up with demand?

The answer is crowdsourcing.

photo by: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

There are more than a thousand labs around the country – many of whom have already stood up for COVID-19 test capability. From a couple hundred to a couple of thousand daily test capacity, these labs collectively represent hundreds of thousands of daily test capacity able to be rapidly shifted to hot spots around the country. Labs can accelerate and automate the results process using innovative technologies such as the Shadowbox-created “COVID-19 DX HUB”.

Now imagine you have that fever but in a crowdsourced distributed site world. You visit your doctor, and she assesses your symptoms. If a test appears appropriate, the sample is professionally collected in a controlled environment to reduce spoilage, and the order is made electronically while collecting all the federally mandated patient information. The sample is then shipped overnight to one of the crowdsourced labs, with results provided electronically within 48 hours – enough time to provide clear clinical direction relative to the outcome of the test. Simple, safe, and accurate with no more crowds, long lines, or false results.

Much better.

Greg brings diverse experience, a vast network, and over 30 years of leadership to his role at Shadowbox. Most recently, Greg was Vice President of Strategic and Community Affairs and an original investor with Millennium Health, where he helped grow the company to more than 1,500 employees and $1.8BN in enterprise value. Prior to Millennium, Greg served in numerous leadership roles such as CFO of a start-up in the defense and action sports space; EVP of a political economics start-up division in the macroeconomic firm founded by Dr. Arthur Laffer, the world-renowned economist; VP of a start-up in a sell-side investment bank; and CEO of a start-up consortium of defense contractors delivering software to the US Air Force and Navy.

Additional articles by Greg Stein