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The Future Is Now: Lauren Trenkle of Total Testing Solutions On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up The Tech Scene

Give yourself grace. — things will happen. I take ownership of it all. Others mistakes become my mistakes — it is my company after all! However, dwelling on it does not help. It is important to step back, know the little things will happen, learn from them and move on. People always get upset about not receiving results, and they have written some nasty emails — just rude. During the height of the pandemic, when we could only accommodate so many tests per day people would email and call in about not being able to make an appointment with same day and they would make my staff cry, as if this would get them in. I had to remind my team that these people were just being reactionary to being scared, and I had to remind myself to not be reactionary to these people myself.

As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lauren Trenkle.

Lauren Trenkle, PA, MPH is the Chief Executive Officer and the woman behind Total Testing Solutions. She is the co-founder and mastermind behind all testing operations. Her mission is to bring customized and medicine-driven solutions to COVID-19 testing for individuals, families, and businesses.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I started on this current path when the pandemic hit. I had a deep desire to help essential employees during a time when they could not get access to tests but were still going to work because they just had to keep working, in spite of the morbid situation they faced every day. And as a mother, I couldn’t help wanting to take care of our own team. While we watched companies furlough numerous employees, I realized that this pivot not only helped our communities gain access to safe and effective testing, but it demanded the help of our entire team step up and pivot with us. It’s been a journey to get to this point though, from getting my Masters as a Physician Assistant and in Public Health, to helping my husband build his private Otolaryngology practice as his COO, to building my own company — Total Testing Solutions.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I have enough stories to write a book, but starting a company at the beginning of a global pandemic tops them all. Especially since it was during a time when access to PPE and swabs was nearly impossible. We called upon anyone that we could think of that may know someone in the field and began making any connection we could. The first set of tests that we were able to get a hold of were from Rutgers after an old friend living in New York made a connection for us — and Total Testing Solutions was born.

Can you tell us about the cutting edge technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

LINK is an easy to use, highly customizable software created by medical professionals to help streamline systems and businesses that are eager to reopen. Our flexible mobile pass system allows our clients to adjust the software to their specific needs or requirements and create a digital health pass for negative testing and vaccine verification. This software is designed to help large scale venues get butts back in seats, hotels safely house travelers, and ideally, bring people back together in any and every way.

How do you think this might change the world?

I’m not sure that it will change the world, but if we can use LINK to help implement testing in the post COVID world, we’ll ensure safety far beyond a single pandemic. My background is in public health and one of the biggest issues we have in this country is the lack of preventative medicine. Testing was a huge flaw prior to the pandemic as was evidenced by our response. If LINK can help bring more testing to large gatherings for things like coronaviruses, influenza and other viral/bacterial infectious diseases we can prevent a lot of unneeded deaths, improve workplace production, and ultimately the economy. It would be a great service to refocus efforts on preventative medicine in this country.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

No, not at all. Skeptics would say that the data is being shared and used for some marketing or sales, but we need to realize that the healthcare industry is overdue for the technological facelift. People don’t understand how antiquated the current healthcare system is. While we were building this software, we came to realize that most of the healthcare industry is using technology abandoned by the tech world decades ago. Most operating rooms still use standard definition cameras and televisions. If anything, the deep thought should be spent on how we can improve healthcare with technology.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

Yes for sure. As we scaled up the testing we found that the hardest part of the operation was delivering results to the patients. We partnered with multiple labs and found that none of them could communicate with our electronic health records. We started by building a server just to solve this problem. From there the gaps in technology were so apparent the software just continued to evolve. It continues to evolve today and every week we add new features.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

Exposure is the real key. Many venues are using options that are not as end-to-end and only offer one piece of the puzzle. They’re also designed for a specific use case such as vaccine verification only or testing only. LINK is designed to be both client and user facing and perform every function necessary to reopen a venue, office, school or any other business. Getting that word to decision makers is always the hardest part.

What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?

We’ve invested lightly in local and national ad campaigns and work hard to ensure our SEO is second to none, but in all honesty, our business continues to grow fastest by word of mouth. The product speaks for itself, our team is the perfect combination of fun and professional, and our client retention rate is 100%. We thrive on reviews and smart folks passing our names on to other smart folks.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I have been helped, motivated and moved by so many people along the way. The person I am most grateful for is my husband, who I work with daily. He has always been my rock, the person that I turn to for advice, lean on when I need a push or fall back on when I need a break. Geoff showed me how to build a business and grow in the medical space. His ability to network and grow in spaces is a talent that many doctors do not have. One of our biggest clients to date came from a lab that Geoff connected me with, he agreed to do the testing for them with less than a few hours notice, hundreds of people that they wanted through in less than an hour — we were essentially set up to fail! But we did it, we came in, we got it done, we streamlined it very differently the following week, but the client was happy and we still work with them a year later. Every week. It’s Geoff’s gas pedal “yes” that keeps us all on our toes and ability to see the opportunity in it all.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

We started this company out of necessity. Our business is traditionally Ear, Nose and Throat Surgery. We have six locations in Los Angeles and pride ourselves on serving the underserved. When the pandemic started I made the decision to pivot and start testing those that needed it the most. When our business was ready to fail, we invested $25,000 in test kits out of our own pockets and started testing essential workers, healthcare personnel and first responders when nobody had access to swabs. It could have cost us our business but we didn’t care. Since then we have made sure that we provide free testing by partnering with Los Angeles County and the Los Angeles Department of Public Health. We have tested over 100,000 people in Los Angeles for free. Now we are partnering with Los Angeles Metro to bring vaccination sites to the underserved areas of Los Angeles. Despite everything we have accomplished I am most proud that we have stayed mission forward and brought testing and vaccines to those that need it most.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. You cannot make everyone happy.

As a people pleaser this is a constant struggle for me. Personalities will always make this difficult.

2. When it is not your company, nobody will care as much as you.

When my company started, I would stand outside in 90–100 degree heat, in a full hazmat suit by myself swabbing people while the rest of the staff was inside (to protect themselves). I would take calls and set up meetings via my AirPods for 10+hours a day, the pop up tent protected the specimen table and I ran from car to car testing people as fast as I could. When we decided it was time to scale (the one man show was no longer going to make it) and I found staff to work shorter hours, during cooler times, with more tent coverage it was difficult to get people to stick around. The work was still hard, I do not want to discredit that, but making people care was so hard! The complaints about how unluxurious the job was definitely came, but we were COVID testing, in an underserved community. People will take the position, it’s finding the right people who care that is difficult.

3. Give yourself grace.

Things will happen. I take ownership of it all. Others mistakes become my mistakes — it is my company after all! However, dwelling on it does not help. It is important to step back, know the little things will happen, learn from them and move on. People always get upset about not receiving results, and they have written some nasty emails — just rude. During the height of the pandemic, when we could only accommodate so many tests per day people would email and call in about not being able to make an appointment with same day and they would make my staff cry, as if this would get them in. I had to remind my team that these people were just being reactionary to being scared, and I had to remind myself to not be reactionary to these people myself.

4. When you say “yes,” embrace the moment.

I am a planner. I always have been, but when things do not go the way as I planned I have to be adaptable and lean into the moment. I cannot dwell on the things that have held or tripped me up. Roll with the punches, turn all things into a glorifying moment.

5. Do. Not. React.

I am a feisty gal. I always want to stand up for my staff who work so hard day in and day out — and during a time of the pandemic where tensions ran high. We had crowded sites, long lines, labs made mistakes to no fault of our own, people had CRAZY requests — things happen! But you have to take a step back, breathe and respond. The best solutions are made when everyone, or at least one, comes into the situation calm, cool and collected.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I feel like the movement the entire “testing community” is inspiring is that of change. Change to the current paradigm of Western medicine and the way our society views public health. Preventive medicine is not sexy. Public health is not flashy. Both are largely ignored. People want a pill that will take away a problem. They look for treatment. This movement should be directed at pushing us towards prevention. If we were already testing for other infectious processes prior to the pandemic and required testing prior to large scale gatherings and travel, likely more than 100,000 less people would die every year and the pandemic would have been controlled much quicker. Instead we all look at things like nasal swabs with fear and anxiety. Meanwhile nobody has any problem walking through an X-RAY machine that radiates your body and has the potential to cause cancer. Everything is perception. What we want is to take this pandemic that has killed so many people and disrupted so many families and make some good out of it. This is a movement, we just don’t know it. Our goal as a company will be to rebrand testing over time.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I’m not sure who coined the phrase, but I heard Tom Brady once say “I didn’t come this far to only come this far.” That has stuck with me over the years. No matter how much life throws at you, if you accomplish it life will only throw more at you. One year ago I thought I was busy. Now I can’t imagine only doing what I was doing then. It reminds me of when we had our second child. My husband and I would look at new parents with eyes of envy and think, you don’t even know. When you are working towards a higher purpose, life tends to see it and give you everything you can handle. I often have to remind myself about the mission. It is important to do that periodically to motivate myself through the challenges of change. Drake once said, “Sometimes it is the journey that teaches you a lot about your destination.” This is as true in business as it is in travel. You have to enjoy the journey. It is often more important than the destination.

Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)

Our company is not traditional in the tech world. We started as a medical testing company and worked our way backwards. LINK is a software designed to help businesses, both large and small, reopen. It is an end-to-end product that offers clients solutions as simple as digital health questionnaires for employees to as complex as full testing and vaccine verification, on-site testing programs for venues with 10,000+ fans, full-service testing consultants and digital health pass verification system with contact tracing options. Most of our competitors require integration with other options and collaboration with multiple companies. LINK provides everything in one simple platform designed to be used by anyone. LINK and Total Testing Solutions will make reopening simple. Let businesses worry about the operations behind reopening and let us worry about safely bringing people back together.

We are scrappy and succeed by working harder than our competitors and creating solutions and products that we know people need based on our own medical experience. As the CEO I pride myself on never disappointing my clients no matter how big or small.

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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Fotis Georgiadis

Fotis Georgiadis

Passionate about bringing emerging technologies to the market

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