Two photos side by side: person using finger prick to collect blood sample for Everlywell test; laboratory technicians analyzing sample

The life of a sample

Table of contents

If you’ve ever taken an Everlywell test, you collected your sample at home (or wherever was most convenient to you!), mailed it off, and received your digital results on your device in a few days. But have you ever wondered what exactly happens between sample collection and logging on to your secure portal to access your results?

Well, there are quite a few critical steps and a lot of hardworking team members involved in actually processing and testing your sample, so we can deliver results your body can count on. We’re giving you a behind-the-scenes look at the life of a sample at the lab—from unboxing to analysis to reviewing results, here’s every step your Everlywell sample goes through at the lab.

Life of a sample infographic

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When you received your Everlywell at-home lab test in the mail, you were instructed to either prick your finger to collect blood droplets onto a card to dry, collect a urine sample, swab the inside of your nose, or collect a saliva sample. Next, you use the provided free shipping label to send off your sample at the appropriate drop-off location, and your sample is on its way to the lab!

After a few days, your sample arrives at the lab via a courier, and the processing begins!

We work with a network of labs across the country to receive, process, and analyze thousands of samples a day, and most tests go through a very similar workflow. The end-to-end process is broken down into three phases, the pre-analytic phase, the analytic phase, and the post-analytic phase. Let’s dive in.

Pre-analytic phase

Pre-analytics phase header

Step 1: When your Everlywell test sample arrives at the lab, a member of the pre-analytic staff will receive the sample from the courier, unbox all of the components, and verify that your sample has not arrived leaking or damaged.

In the case that your sample was spilled or damaged during transport, a member of our customer care team will reach out to you to discuss a replacement kit so you can collect a new sample as soon as possible. While we understand that starting the process over may be an inconvenience and leads to delays in receiving your results, we always want to ensure we deliver the results that are important to you!

Step 2: After the initial sample inspection and sorting, an Accessioner will verify that the information included with your sample matches the information provided in the system when you first registered your kit. They will also ensure there is enough sample to proceed.

If any information is incorrect or missing, or the sample is marked as “QNS” (quantity/quality not sufficient), the Accessioner will log it accordingly in the lab portal. From there, you are sent a notification so that we can resolve the issue as soon as possible.

Step 3: If all the information is accurate and sample sufficiency is verified, your sample moves on to the Sample Preparation department for extraction. This is where all samples are prepared for the actual analysis. For example, dry blood, serum, and urine samples are rehydrated so that they can be tested in a liquified state.

Step 4: Once your sample is liquified, it is delivered to Testing Personnel, including Lab Technologists and Certifying Scientists. As the name suggests, these are the team members at the lab who are responsible for the actual testing of the sample.

Analytic phase

Analytic phase graphic

Step 5: However, before your sample is analyzed, quality control is performed to ensure all instruments are properly functioning. There are a number of factors that can contribute to delays at the lab, however, when an instrument malfunctions, repairs can take anywhere from hours to several days before it’s ready to resume sample analysis. Unfortunately, this can lead to delays throughout the lab.

Step 6: When the Medical Lab Technologists and Certifying Scientists receive the sample, they analyze it using the appropriate instruments and verify that there are no discrepancies in the test results. This validation stage confirms that we are identifying the right markers using the right methods using the right instruments.

While it is rare, if a batch of samples all come back with abnormal results, lab personnel know that there may be an issue with the technology and secondary analysis may be necessary.

Step 7: If the results are valid, they are released to a physician for review. All samples at our labs are physician-reviewed to ensure we deliver accurate results to you.

Post-Analytic phase

Post-analytic phase

Step 8: In the case of a positive result for the Lyme Disease Test or one of our seven STI test offerings, a healthcare provider in our network will reach out to you to discuss your results and next steps.

Step 9: After review, you are notified via text or email that their results are ready in your secure, online portal. We always send your results in an easy-to-read format with important context and reference ranges. This way, you feel empowered to take action on your results with clear next steps and the option to share your results with your primary care provider.

Step 10: Your sample is stored at the lab ranging from 7-30 days from the time of the collection date, in case retesting is necessary. After the archival period, we medically discard your sample.

For COVID-19 and certain STI tests, Everlywell is required by law to report results to state health authorities for disease tracking and prevalence. Your results are not shared by Everlywell or our partners for anything outside of state health reporting. Under no circumstance do we ever sell your data, and we use state-of-the-art, bank-grade encryption to ensure data security.

Your wellness journey is personal and we know how important accurate and actionable results are to understanding your health and wellness better. That’s why the amazing team members at our network of labs work hard to collaborate, analyze, and deliver results your body can count on six days a week. From sample collection to results delivery, tens of people have a hand in making it all happen, including members of our customer care team, laboratorians, healthcare professionals, and more.

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Here are some terms we used throughout the blog that may need clarification!

  • Accessioner: A team member on the Pre-Analytics team who is responsible for processing laboratory samples.
  • Certifying Scientist: Lab personnel who perform sample testing and analysis.
  • Extraction: The process of separating one or more components selectively from a liquid or solid mixture.
  • Medical Lab Technologist: Lab personnel who perform sample testing and analysis.
  • QNS: An abbreviation for “quantity not sufficient” or “quality not sufficient”, which is the lab’s way of flaggining samples that may need to be recollected.
  • Validation: The process of confirming that the right markers are identified using the right methods with the right instruments.

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