Blood testing without needles showing promise
For many of us, the fear of needles can keep us from getting needed blood tests, but a new method that requires only a finger prick may alleviate those fears.
Theranos, a Palo Alto, California-based company, headed by 30 year old, Elizabeth Holmes, has developed a method of testing that uses just a droplet of blood, rather than a full vile, to conduct over 70 different tests.
Blood drawing has seen little change in many years. However, Holmes set her sights on making it more effective and efficient. Theranos is focused on providing quicker test results, lower cost for patients, and ease of access – all in addition to removing some of the apprehension around blood tests.
Some health experts see immediate benefits for patients.
“We know that many people do not go for blood tests as instructed by their physician,” says Dr. Carrie Nelson, senior director medical population for Advocate Physician Partners. “Whether it is a problem getting to a testing facility, cost, or being afraid of needles, people frequently do not follow through on recommendations for blood draws and tests.”
Focused on reducing costs, Theranos offers over 1,000 tests for a fraction of standard price.
“Health care costs are an increasing concern for people,” says Dr. Nelson. “Anything that can be done at a low cost, while preserving quality, will be extremely beneficial for patients and our health care system as a whole. Not only will doctors will have the information they need to take the best care of people but the savings can then be directed toward meeting other healthcare needs.”
A national retail store agreed to a partnership with Theranos and has created sites within its locations in a few west coast cities before rolling out the program nationwide within a few years. The partnership will accomplish Holmes’ third goal of having convenient access to a blood draw laboratory. Finding a convenience store is not hard, and this will also help for people to get blood drawn on flexible hours, rather than needing to leave work or travel far for a testing location.
Theranos will run the tests, but a doctor will still have to deliver the results and treatment plans. “The quicker turnaround and higher convenience for patients means we can minimize delays in diagnosis and care,” explains Dr. Nelson.
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