It was the early 1980s when John Bell looked back at his personal family history, realizing he had lost his father and several other relatives before they reached their 50th birthday. Inspired and motivated by the loss of loved ones, John began studying the causes of heart attacks and learned of the correlation between elevated cholesterol and heart disease. Suddenly, wellness and early detection became a personal crusade. As a vigorous member of the rapidly-growing healthcare industry, John founded his first wellness company in 1983. Heart Chek offered on-site screening programs performed nationwide by more than 50 phlebotomy teams. Collectively, the franchises were running more than 150,000 tests a month.
Expanding from cholesterol and cardiovascular screening into additional areas of wellness, John founded Direct Laboratory Services, Inc. (DLS) in 1993. As the early 1990s saw the opening of Patient Service Centers by the nation’s major laboratories, DLS was able to establish the Direct Access Testing (DAT) concept, primarily through internet marketing. And as the industry pioneer and leader, he formed a DAT trade association to establish and maintain standards of excellence as competitors with a common mission entered the field.
In recent years, DLS’ volume of fast, affordable, convenient and confidential online lab tests to individual consumers has significantly increased each year. Today, millions of Americans have no health insurance or have high-deductible health plans, so in addition to providing consumers with the ability to take charge of their own health at affordable prices, DLS offers a much-needed healthcare provider affiliation, giving physicians a safe, confidential, cost-effective resource for their uninsured patients. In 2003, Lab Services Benefits for groups, wellness companies and associations began as a component of mini-med plans. This benefit fills the gap created by expansion in the High Deductible Health Plan/Health Savings Account area. This segment of the company currently covers over 500,000 members.
DLS’ reputation consistently earns recognition for organizing and administering health screenings for some of the country's largest retailers, as well as state and local health departments. Periodic reviews of DLS’ operations by state health departments and medical regulatory boards consistently result in enthusiastic approval. For almost twenty years, DLS has provided wellness screening to employees of the State of Louisiana insured by the State Employees Group Benefits Program. And the City of New Orleans awarded DLS a certificate of appreciation for administering their Metro Area Health Awareness Program, which tested 20,000 people over nine days. Consumer testimonials from new and established consumers are a daily tribute to DLS’ success.
Sadly, John lost his battle with pancreatic cancer in December 2011. However, his vision and legacy live on in the company which he so dearly loved and built from the ground up.