Rapid Results Testing for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea Comes to Fort Lauderdale

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There’s a particular phrase that gets under Ramin Bastani’s skin. And the aggravation can be more than just a mere annoyance when it comes to health care issues.

“My dad was diagnosed with cancer years ago and I became his caregiver,” said Bastani, the CEO of Los Angeles, California-based Healthvana. “There were gaps in the coverage and with the health care provider, and during all the testing and labs and waiting for results I’d often hear people say: ‘no news is good news.’ With my technology background, it made no sense to me,” he said.

The phrase, when it comes to lab results, means when a test is negative a patient often won’t hear from the provider and has to be more proactive in finding out the result. In general, it’s only when a result is positive that a patient will be contacted (hopefully quickly) with the results.

Out of the experience with his father, and optimism about what technology can accomplish in the world of health care and testing, Bastani would go on to help create Healthvana — a tech and software company trying to better connect patients and providers so patients can quickly decide what to do next in their care.

Bastani has teamed up with Sunnyvale, California-based Cepheid Inc. and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) to bring rapid testing for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) to South Florida. The tests, which Bastani said would be available in the next month or so, will offer quick lab results (90-minutes versus typically eight days) of chlamydia and gonorrhea — two of the most common STDs in the country. The free tests will be available at the Broward Wellness Center in Fort Lauderdale, where AHF already offers free AIDS tests and other services.

The Wellness Centers run by the AHF, said Bastani, are the first sexual health clinics to incorporate the rapid test technology.

The issue is a big focus because the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said that in 2017, STDs in America reached some of the highest levels ever seen. The organization and others are seeking ways to slow down the epidemic.

“The experience is you walk in and register digitally by phone or kiosk, instead of paper and pen,” Bastani said. “It saves a lot of time and allows [AHF] to see more patients. Afterward, instead of hearing the classic ‘no news is good news, call us back in two weeks,’ — as soon as the lab is done — it goes to the patient in a really easy way to understand,” he said.

Bastani said results are sent through text or email notification. You can also go to a website where you’ll find a free app. If everything is fine with the lab results, you’ll see “negative.” If there is infection, it will say “positive,” and give you instructions on what to do next.

“Healthvana has reduced the time by two full days,” Bastani said. “It helps patients stay on top of their care,” he said.

The testing has been launched in other cities like London, England, and Bastani said the results have been “insanely positive.”

“To the point where people were lining up — 800 in one day. People don’t have the anxiety once the barriers are reduced,” he said.

But Bastani said there’s another practical reason for having the test results at your fingertips.

“People often ask a potential partner: ‘Have you been tested?’ Through our technology you can share the test results,” Bastani said. He said he’s seen people take a screenshot of results (omitting whatever personal information one wishes) and share on dating sites like Tinder.

While the technology has the potential for other health care tests, Bastani said Healthvana works in sexual health, because it’s where the company started. He said the company is also working in the area of renal (kidney) disease.

Bastani, 42, employs 20 people at Healthvana. He said the company, which launched in 2015, has already received industry kudos. He has presented at the White House, at Stanford University and at the National Library of Medicine in Maryland. Bastani said he started his first technology company after he graduated from the University of Southern California in 1999.

The AHF Wellness Center — Broward is located at 750 SE 3rd Ave. (1st floor) in Ft. Lauderdale. Call 954-767-0273 for more information.


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