Andrea and I had some issues with the process as well. First, let me say I completely agree with your point...Don't over think it! This is where many of our problems came up as well. Anyway, I talked with Nasra (the RN at Mayo that is supporting this process) and I think I have the correct answers to my questions. I thought I would pass along the things that I learned that were not obvious to me at least:
Where should I get the procedure done?
We tried to get the blood drawn at Andrea's cancer center (UCSF), but we could not get them to do it. They didn't know how to bill the procedure for insurance purposes (more on that later), and the fact that the request came from a different institution (Mayo) did not help. With effort, we probably could have gotten this to work, but we found it easier to just use a third party lab to do the blood draw. We used Quest Diagnostics.
Does this cost me anything?
The easiest way to get this procedure done is to pay for it yourself, and then send the receipt to Mayo (Nasra) for reimbursement. I think this is the way most people end up doing it. If this is a problem, your best bet is to get the lab in contact with Nasra. Nasra can send over an invoice that should allow the lab to bill Mayo directly.
The problem here was really one of communication. Andrea and I didn't realize we needed to pay and then get reimbursed. We were thus stumped when the cancer center asked us "Who is paying for this procedure?" Our answer should have been "it is patient paid," but we didn't know that...
When should I get the procedure done?
If you live in the U.S. or Canada, you need to plan on making an appointment between Monday and Thursday. Mayo sends you a prepaid overnight Fed Ex box to send the sample back to them. However, because the sample needs to arrive at Mayo on a business day (Mon-Fri), it needs to be given to Fed Ex on Mon-Thurs. If you are not in the U.S. or Canada, be sure to talk with Nasra about when you should schedule your appointment.
Do I need to do anything before I go?
Yes. You need to find the freezer pack that is in the package. The freezer pack is under the sample collection box (both of which are inside the return Fed Ex box) You should bring a frozen freezer pack to your appointment (at least 4 hours in the freezer is required)
What other issues can come up?
The clinic asked us if we had an "order" for the blood draw. It turns out there is the equivalent of an order in the sample collection box. If you are asked, say "yes, we do have an order!"
Let the clinic know that they need to give the materials to Fed Ex. If you try to give the box to Fed Ex yourself, Fed Ex may not take it since it contains blood. If Fed Ex doesn't normally pick up at your clinic, you or the clinic can call them and they will make a special stop.
Those are the things that tripped us up.
If you tried participating in the Mayo study (successfully or unsuccessfully), please please please add any other things that you found confusing or challenging to this thread. As I understand it, the plan is to take all of this feedback and use it to improve the Mayo process. Part of that improvement will be a guide or FAQ on this website to help patients navigate potential problems.