Thanks to earlier investments, the improved efficiency of processes and more affordable lab equipment, SYNLAB can offer coronavirus testing for a significantly reduced price to healthcare service providers and clients ordering the paid service as of 1 January 2021.
Coronavirus testing continues to be voluntary and free of charge for Estonian residents with a family doctor’s referral. The service is paid for by the Health Board pursuant to the contract entered into on the basis of the public procurement for coronavirus sample collection and testing of the samples collected. The price change, which comes into effect at the beginning of 2021, primarily concerns healthcare service providers: according to the Estonian Health Insurance Fund’s price list, one coronavirus test will cost them 51.81 euros. The price will also be reduced for individuals wishing to take the paid test: together with collecting the sample and the cost of personal protective equipment, the test at SYNLAB will now cost 58 euros.
The price of the test taken from the nasopharynx is formed on the basis of a number of processes and materials. First, various equipment is required to collect samples and transport them to the laboratory, including personal protective equipment, sampling equipment, materials for packaging and transporting samples, and logistics vehicles. Second, the samples need to be tested for coronavirus. This process requires the use of special lab rooms with the required level of safety, various devices, reagents, tools, etc. Third, the entire background system needs to be maintained, including specially designed IT solutions for reserving testing times, the processing of referral letters, the exchanging of orders, results and other data between family doctors and other people who place orders and laboratory information systems; these, in turn, require secure software solutions.
The fourth and most important factor in the process leading to a coronavirus test result and its final price is people. Each sample is handled by 20 people; the total number of medical institution employees involved in public testing is over 650 – staff at call centres, testing points and laboratories, drivers transporting samples; IT, purchasing and warehouse specialists providing support services, etc. The SYNLAB staff are working hard 24 hours a day 7 days a week to process all the thousands of samples collected.
It was possible to reduce the price of coronavirus testing by as much due to investments made earlier in 2020, the ongoing automation of laboratory activities and the optimisation of support processes. In addition, a new cooperation contract signed with the Health Board with a validity date until the end of 2021 allows us to place larger orders for sampling and laboratory equipment, personal protective and other equipment, and thus reduce the price of the test by 25%.
Furthermore, the certificate is now cheaper or completely free of charge. In November, SYNLAB introduced the TESTI mobile app, which can be downloaded from the testi.me website and allows the user to generate a free certificate instead of purchasing one. For those who prefer to receive a paper certificate from SYNLAB, it now costs 7 euros instead of 13 euros.
SYNLAB Eesti together with Medicum plays the leading role in organising public testing in Estonia.
In 2020, 500,000 coronavirus PCR tests were performed in the laboratory, using the nasopharyngeal swab. SYNLAB participates in sample collection and it organises logistics throughout Estonia, 24/7 analysis of samples in the lab and the transmission of results into the digilugu.ee patient portal. The laboratory was founded in 1995; it employs approximately 450 people at 20 locations. Each year, the company performs over 8 million tests, which makes it the largest medical laboratory in Estonia.
SYNLAB Eesti is part of SYNLAB Group, which is Europe’s largest chain of laboratories and has more than 500 laboratories in over 40 countries.