Away from the limelight, press coverage and noise, a small California company has been hard at work in transforming the health care industry. Decades old established procedures and practices dominated by large national laboratories which are still in use today, are being challenged and this company is writing a new paradigm for the future of health care. The company is Theranos, based in Palo Alto CA, and is featured in the front cover of Fortune Magazine, June 2014 issue. The idea for this company came from a 19-year-old sophomore Elizabeth Holmes, from Stanford University. Based on the article, she presented the idea to the chemical engineering professor Channing Robertson. Although he encouraged her to finish the degree before starting the company, she convinced him otherwise, and he helped her to start the company by introducing to influential people who has the connections to help her start the company. Elizabeth’s desire to change the health care system and help the humanity was so strong, she couldn’t wait another two more years to finish the degree. She wanted to do this through creativity and innovation.
Theranos today is a highly disruptive force in the health care diagnostic market, approximately $73 billion industry dominated by large corporations such as Quest Diagnostics, Lab Corp, and ARUP labs in Salt Lake City to name a few.
Theranos runs a complex laboratory system with their proprietary hardware and software and is licensed to operate most commonly ordered blood tests in most states. They currently offer more than 200 most commonly ordered blood tests and ramping up offer more than 1000. The most significant achievement is that they do these tests without the use of syringes to draw blood from the patient. Typically most of these tests are done using several hundred microliters of blood drawn from the vein causing discomfort and pain to the patient, specially children. Theranos can do these tests with 1/100th to 1/1000th amount of blood compared to the traditional method. The company can do as many as 70 different tests from 25-50 microliters of blood collected in a tiny container. The patient blood is collected by gently tapping the finger. The results from these tests are available in a matter of few hours, which will significantly improve the correct diagnosis, and treatment of the problem. Theranos test is also cheaper, about half or one quarter of what the other labs charge.
Since the tests are done through a small instrument the size of a desk top computer, and do not require any elaborate testing equipment or facility, it can be operated in the battle field, or small clinics around the world. Currently company draws sample at 21 Walgreens and the collection center in the company. Company is planning to roll out thousands more of these collection centers across the country and the world in the coming years. This will dramatically improve the accessibility of the doctor ordered tests to average people, and reduce the cost of the test and pass on the savings for the patient. We are proud to mention that Theranos, this is one of Pioneer Scientific’s customers. We at Pioneer Scientific is proud to be a very small part of their success and wish them all the success. Pioneer Scientific just like Theranos emphasize creativity and innovation to solve problems, and identifying new products to make customer work a little easier. Whether it is in the R & D laboratory, or health care, we believe innovation, creativity and thinking outside the box are the winning ways and can make a difference, no matter how small.