Rhyan Walcott, CEO was recently honored to be featured in the Top100 Innovators and Entrepreneurs Magazine. What follows are excerpts from the interview.
An Interview with Rhyan Walcott
As a kid, Rhyan Walcott was mesmerized by the boy genius out to save the world in Dexter’s Laboratory. He’d tinker for hours with his chemistry playset, absorbed in his fascination with medicine and science. It’s a passion that drove him through a 15-year career in laboratories and business—working in both environmental science labs and esoteric clinical laboratories in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina; serving as CEO for established and start-up businesses; and helming the build of laboratories throughout the US. Through the lens of both a business and laboratory leader, Rhyan knows what physicians need most to care for their patients: fast and accurate lab results. Today, as CEO of Meridian Diagnostics, a clinical diagnostic reference laboratory based in Colorado Springs, he’s making sure they get it—within just 24 hours. “Our results are triple-checked because we know the massive responsibility that we have, not only to ensure that medical professionals have accurate information, but have it fast,” Rhyan says. “We take seriously that patients’ lives are in our hands.”
To Rhyan and Meridian Diagnostics, the thousands of tests they provide each month for hundreds of physicians and healthcare providers represent not just data points, but a life, a person, a family, a future. This is what drove them to build one of the most high-tech labs in the industry providing myriad testing services to clients nationwide. It’s what pushed their dedication to be at the forefront of emerging diagnostics, which allowed them to help usher health care professionals and their patients through COVID-19 and fueled them to provide a “one-stop shop” for long-term care and nursing home clients, offering wound care, and onychomycosis, UTI, and viral testing services.
While every Meridian Diagnostics staff member is committed to their mission, for Rhyan, the passionate leader who transformed this lab from ordinary to extraordinary and increased client volume by 3500% in just six months since taking the helm in March 2022, it’s what he was born to do. “It took a lot of sleepless nights and a lot of hard work, but it was absolutely a labor of love,” he shares. As he steers Meridian forward, Rhyan also helps laboratories and businesses nationwide to succeed through APEX Professional Solutions, a consultation and management firm that he founded in 2021 with his wife, Samantha Walcott, who has worked in the diagnostic healthcare space for over a decade and serves as Chief Quality Officer for both APEX Professional Solutions and Meridian Diagnostics.
About Meridian Diagnostics
Meridian Diagnostics offers services to clinics, laboratories, employers, and health care organizations, and long-term care facilities, and strives to help medical professionals make better health care decisions through functionable, accurate, seamless, and timely diagnostic testing. With a focus on quality, reports are issued within 24 hours and supported through rigorous validation standards and skilled experts. Meridian offers a host of advanced testing services: wound care and onychomycosis, customizable toxicology panels utilizing liquid chromatography mass spectrometry, UTI with antibiotic resistance, blood panels, COVID, viral testing, pharmacogenomics, and urinalysis. Further, Meridian can often detect pathogens, analytes, and infections that other labs might miss—and when a life is on the line, this could make all the difference.
Q: What makes Meridian Diagnostics so different, Rhyan?
First, we know that physicians need accurate, comprehensive results, and they need them quickly. We provide triple checked reports within 24 hours, which doctors can access through our online portal or via email or fax. Second, we make the entire process easy and seamless, with a client relationship specialist who works with our medical professionals from beginning to end so that they don’t have to wait 48 hours or more for a response. We provide testing supplies, ensure samples are returned to us in an expedient manner and reports are accessible the following morning.
Q: Meridian is now focusing on onychomycosis testing services to help your long-term care and nursing home clients. Tell us about this.
Onychomycosis is a chronic fungal infection of the nails that affects 50% of people over 70 years old and 20% of those over 60. It can be incredibly painful and cause physical impairment, undermining their quality of life, so it’s important to identify the causative agent to ensure appropriate treatment. Our nail fungal testing detects dermophytes, yeasts, and molds via nail clipping samples.
Q: You have a record of both building innovative labs from scratch and contributing significantly to the growth of health care companies. What compelled you to join Meridian and lead its transformation?
I’d been working Meridian for a few months at the same time I was running my own company, APEX. I could see not only the promise in what they could be, but how to get them there. Most importantly, they were passionate about their mission, and I wanted to be a part of it. I joined as CEO, restructured the lab, rebuilt the entire team and model, and together, we transformed it to what it is today. We couldn’t be prouder.