Discussions about medical and healthcare industries in the US make most people cringe or stress out. It’s almost as if you want to eliminate the word “care” from that statement altogether, especially after watching Michael Moore’s ‘Sicko’ documentary.
One women working her magic to change that is Elizabeth Holmes. The 30 year old Stanford dropout is the CEO of company she founded called Theranos, which has created a revolutionary way to use blood for testing.
Normally, to get tested for anything from cholesterol checks to sophisticated genetic analyses it would cost you an arm or a leg, and it would take an entire vial of blood for one test alone. Elizabeth and her team created a way for hundreds of tests to be performed from one single pin-prick of blood, and it is cheap!
Unlike other medical companies Theranos publicly lists all prices for their tests on their website, meaning there are no hidden surprises and insurance companies or medicare cannot jack up prices. The company plans to charge less than 50 percent of the standard Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates. If all tests in the US were performed at those kinds of prices, the company says, it could save Medicare $98 billion and Medicaid $104 billion over the next decade.
That sentence alone is mind-blowing, and this possibility is all thanks to this amazing woman who decided to use her college tuition money to create something revolutionary instead of just gaining a degree from an Ivy League school.
Elizabeth told Wired magazine‘s Caitlin Roper the motivation for creating Theranos came from her own personal fear of needles.
“I started this company because I wanted to spend my life changing our health care system. When someone you love gets really sick, most of the time when you find out, it’s too late to be able to do something about it. It’s heartbreaking.”
Because of this new method of testing, people will be able to have a better insight into their health and be able to prevent illnesses such as cancer or diabetes in a much earlier stage than is possible now.
Another area where this new way of testing will make a huge difference is fertility testing.
“Most people pay for it out of pocket, and it can cost as much as $2,000. These tests provide the data you need to figure out someone’s fertility, and some women can’t afford them. Our new fertility panel is going to cost $35. That means women will be able to afford the tests. They’ll be able to better manage the process and take some of the stress out of trying to conceive.”
This new method from Theranos took years in the making, but it is paying off. The turn around time for results can be as quick as 4 hours as the testing process is different. Elizabeth explains there is more room for error when a vial of blood is handled by humans, and too much times passes in between drawing the blood and actually analyzing it. With their new system, there will be no human handling, and the blood is kept cold until tested.
They also created a tool where physicians can analyze data, and be able to predict the future of a person’s health rather than just see whether they are inside the parameters of where they should be right now health-wise. So this new technology affects everyone from the medical industry right down to the everyday person wanting to know more about their health in a cost-effective, timely manner.
“The dream is to be able to help contribute to the research that’s going on to identify cancer signatures as they change over time, to help intervene early enough to do something about an illness.”
“By testing, you can start to understand your body, understand yourself, change your diet, change your lifestyle, and begin to change your life.”
The first public unveiling of the Theranos testing was held at a Walgreens in the fall of 2013 in Palo Alto, California (where dotcom luminaries such as Google and Facebook are based) and the plan is for them to roll out testing centers nationwide. One pin prick, hundreds of tests, less money, and countless lives saved. Sounds like a dream come true!
Talk about a super woman! We hope this story will inspire more females out there to get involved in STEM industries. Your passion and perseverance could mean revolutionizing an entire industry, or at the very least making a difference in a person’s life. There is nothing more admirable than that. Let’s get this woman a headline in every major paper, because this is something worth talking about!