Start-Up Advances Native Health Results

Since its founding one year ago, Tribal Diagnostics, a premier diagnostic laboratory, is standing up against disproportionately poor physical health conditions in Indian Country. The start-up, who has an expertise in substance abuse urine drug testing and will be adding health and wellness blood testing in 2017, supports healthcare providers by providing tailored information to help prevent, monitor, and treat disease. The team, which is 75% Native American, brings innovative operational, tribal, and scientific expertise to native healthcare. 

Chief Executive Officer, Cory Littlepage, an enrolled member of Chickasaw Nation, saw a need for diagnostic testing services in Indian Country. By securing funding, building a facility, and meeting all regulatory requirements, he opened his business in Oklahoma City. Through partnerships with physicians, clinics, and hospitals, Littlepage successfully provides high volume and specialized laboratory testing services for native people. 

“We built a business around solving a moral problem; which are the health outcomes of our people in Indian Country,” said Littlepage. “Since almost all medical decisions are based on the result of a laboratory test, building a medical laboratory was the perfect place to start.”

For his entrepreneurial enterprise, Littlepage is one of National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development’s prestigious ‘40 Under 40’ award recipient. He is recognized as an emerging American Indian person that demonstrates leadership, initiative, and dedication who is making significant contributions in business and community. Tribal Diagnostics was also named the 2016 ‘Minority Start-Up of the Year’ by REI Oklahoma’s Native American Business Centers.

“It is an unbelievable honor to be recognized by both REI and NCAIED and validation that what we are doing is right,” explained Littlepage. “We also have an outstanding team who are passionate about our Mission.  These awards are a testament to them.”

The start-up has found its niche in the market because there is an Opioid abuse epidemic facing our nation and because treating pain is not easy.  Furthermore, with 20% of Tribal members in fair or poor health, health and wellness blood testing services help patients understand what is going on inside their body at a metabolic level and establish a health and wellness baseline. 

Dawn Coley, an enrolled member of the Penobscot Nation, is the Director of Tribal Relations.  Ms. Coley has worked for over 30 years in Health Care Administration and has operated an Occupational Health Clinic. She is quoted by saying that, “American Indians and Alaska Natives need to be provided more education on the Opioid Abuse Epidemic in Indian Country and we know Indian County. Whether it is a Tribal business or Indian Organization, our people deserve to be served by culturally sensitive professionals. That’s us.” 

“We are also very sensitive to the cost of healthcare in Indian Country and want to partner with Tribes to look for the most cost effective ways to implement their Tribal health systems. Tribal Diagnostics looks at the whole picture for treatment outcomes and ensures that Tribal members can afford follow up treatment if they have to pay any out-of-pocket costs.”

Per Indian Health Services, native people have long experienced lower health and life expectancy. They hold disproportionate disease burden compared to other Americans because of inadequate education, disproportionate poverty, discrimination in the delivery of health services, and cultural differences. Tribal Diagnostics seeks to ease the burden by expanding to providing more vital services in native healthcare.