Meet the 30 Year-Old Billionaire Revolutionizing the Lab Test

It seems like there are about a million companies attempting to provide value to  healthcare. Some companies offer solutions in managing personal health status, others develop new drugs, and most market money saving opportunities. Many of these companies incite small waves of change, but few succeed in completely revolutionizing the industry. 

I first heard of Elizabeth Holmes from a physician at work. He was excited about her company, Theranos, and it's development of a method for performing lab tests with a single drop of blood.  The amount of blood necessary for most of Theranos' lab tests is obtainable with a simple finger prick. Not only does Theranos give hope to trypanophobes (fear of needles, bonus points for using the word in conversation), the system is shockingly cost effective. 

Elizabeth Holmes, now 30, founded Theranos at age 19. She dropped out of Stanford using her tuition money to start her business. Her dream? To revolutionize lab testing technology. Elizabeth had developed a new, top secret way to perform lab tests. Her technology can perform as many as 70 lab tests from a tiny vial containing just 25 to 50 microliters of blood. For similar testing, conventional lab technology would require several tubes of blood containing 100 times that amount. Thanks to her hard work, smarts, and innovative vision, Elizabeth's Theranos is now valued at $9 billion. 

Unlike most revolutionary healthcare-related technologies, Theranos makes lab testing more cost effective. The company's website transparently lists prices for each available test on it's website. The cost of checking triglycerides, for example? Less than your lunchtime sandwich, just $3.95. Results from lab tests can even be obtained, in most cases, within hours. These cost savings extrapolated across the country over time could save billions in healthcare-related expenses. The implications of this technology are enormous. 

I wanted to try out Theranos' product for myself, but unfortunately the company is in the beginning stages of rolling out the new lab testing technology to the public. Lab testing is available only at select Arizona and California Walgreen's stores.

I'm excited to watch as this new method for lab testing rolls out across the country. I can only begin to imagine how it may change my practice as a nurse practitioner. With lab testing made easy, quick, and affordable, my patients will be more motivated to monitor their health. Making decisions about how to treat my patients will become easier and more efficient. The lab testing process, which is an overall negative experience, will be made much more positive and streamlined as Theranos fulfills it's vision. 

Check out Wired's interview with Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes here


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