Elizabeth Holmes was a student at Stanford University, who had a vision to re-invent how taking and testing blood is carried out. She founded a company named Theranos and now, a decade later, has achieved her aim of making phlebotomy more efficient and cost effective.
Theranos has developed a way to radically change how blood is drawn and then tested. Instead of one vial of blood being taken for every necessary test, Holmes’ solution needs only a pinprick and a drop of blood. From this tiny amount, hundreds of tests can be done; everything from cholesterol tests to complex genetic examinations.
The idea stems from Holmes’ fear of needles and a desire to improve the health care system. She explains how often, diagnosis can come too late and something more could have been done if only tests were done sooner and more efficiently.
This new method has resulted in tests that are faster, more accurate and significantly cheaper than traditional methods. This has big implications for the medical field, including the possibility of winning the fight against major medical problems such as cancer and heart disease.
In order to keep test results accurate Theranos uses only automated devices to process the blood so no human is involved. Holmes explains that 93 percent of error comes from pre-analytic processing, in other words where humans physically handle things.
Theranos introduced its new blood-testing methods in a Walgreens pharmacy in Palo Alto, California last year but the plan is to now roll out the service to other centres. The company outlines its pricing on its website and plan to charge less than 50 percent of the usual Medicare and Mediaid reimbursement costs.
[Images via Theranos]