About Michael Tu
Michael Tu is the Founder & CEO of Everyplace Labs. Previously, at Baxter Healthcare, he co-led the development of a new Class II medical device from its early concept through a regulatory approval. He has been published in Nature – Gene Therapy and an Invited Speaker at The University of Ibadan, Nigeria and Medtronic. Michael has a M.S. in Electrical Engineering and B.S. in Biomedical Engineering and Economics from Northwestern University, where he was awarded 2nd place for the Robert B. Taggart Best Design Award.
About Everyplace Labs
Around-the-clock testing that meets you everyplace you are. A self-service kiosk that automates diagnostic testing for congregate living settings and essential worksites.
Medical Travel & Digital Health News (MTDHN): Fill us in on your background and the company.
Michael Tu (MT): Everyplace Labs originated when I was in grad school at Northwestern. Another co-founder and I were part of a team that developed a litter box for cats to analyze urine for kidney disease. This was a great business opportunity, but my passion was always in improving human health, so I wanted to develop an analogous technology for humans that automated point-of-care diagnostics.
Originally, my team identified an opportunity to automate point-of-care urine diagnostics and improve patient throughput in emergency departments. However, when the pandemic hit, we saw healthcare decentralize away from the hospital and emergency department. We asked ourselves how we could continue to have a meaningful impact on patient care. We realized we could adapt our core technology that automates point-of-care diagnostics into a self-service diagnostic kiosk and deploy the kiosk in congregate living settings and essential worksites to improve patient access to around-the-clock diagnostics.
MTDHN: What distinguishes your offering from the thousands of digital diagnostics companies out there?
MT: Congregate living settings and essential worksites offer some COVID-19 testing today, but the existing solutions have limitations. Existing rapid testing options include self-tests, which are vulnerable to users cheating the system through intentional user errors, as well as accidental user errors. Point-of-care tests are limited to times and places with trained professionals. Proctored tests are resource intensive and costly to oversee.
We are uniquely positioned as a diagnostic company for several reasons. Our solution overcomes the mentioned limitations of rapid tests by automating and providing observed, 24/7 rapid testing for COVID-19 and other conditions like the flu.
Our technology is unique in that it can be deployed in any community setting where there is limited or no healthcare infrastructure. This aligns with the enormous shift away from centralized healthcare settings to increase the accessibility of testing.
Also, we are morereliable than the typical self-test because our technology is a sample-to-result technology. This means there’s no test preparation and result interpretation steps on the part of the user. The patient simply collects their own sample to be placed in an Everyplace Labs kiosk, which automates all the testing steps, including sample-reagent mixing, sample dispensing, and result interpretation, and sends results to you and a remote clinician.
Our goal is to make sure that the diagnostic testing is connected to a broader care pathway. Users can opt-in to share results with a telehealth clinician for follow-up care.
MTDHN: What tests do you offer?
MT: We’redeveloping a combination COVID-19 / flu test. Our platform’s modular system architecture allows us to expand into a wide range of tests in the future. These tests include drug tests and chronic disease tests for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
We’re also focused on developing a novel kiosk device that automates the entire testing process that healthcare workers typically perform manually.
MTDHN: Where are these kiosks?
MT: We are piloting our beta-system at congregate living and essential worksite settings. Recently, we piloted our beta-system at a leading residential high school in the Chicago area, where students live on campus 24/7.
Through the pilot, we learned that residential high schools have an unmet need for observed, 24/7 rapid testing for COVID-19. Students live on campus 24/7, but the student health services office, where students go to get a rapid test performed by the school nurse, is closed after business hours on weekdays and on weekends.
School nurses prefer to perform the rapid tests themselves, so they can observe the process and ensure the integrity of the process. When students are allowed to self-test themselves, some students try to cheat the testing system because they don’t want to test positive and miss class.
As a result, residential high schools need rapid testing to be an observed process, but students do not have access to observed, rapid testing when the student health services office is closed after business hours on weekdays and on weekends. Our kiosk would enable students living on campus who are feeling ill at night and their close contacts to get tested in an observed manner when the student health services office is not open.
Students could access a screening tool on their phone to determine whether their symptoms qualify them for our testing. Based on the result, atest is automatically ordered for them, and they’re directed to a nearby kiosk, which might be located at their residence hall. The kiosk observes and guides the students through the sample collection process and analyzes the inputted sample in real time to generate a test result. We are also piloting our beta-system at a manufacturing plant of a global drug delivery company. We’re also looking at other essential worksites like warehouses and retail locations and other congregate living settings like residential universities and nursing homes to make our kiosks accessible to everyone at everyplace.