Imagine getting a blood test at your local drugstore rather than making an appointment with a doctor and waiting for your tests to make their way back from the lab before finally getting the results. That has been the vision of Elizabeth Holmes, CEO of Theranos, and will soon be a reality. Holmes, 30, who never finished college, is the youngest woman to become a billionaire and has been dubbed the female Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs.
With backing from Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and with former Secretary of State George Schultz on her Board, Theranos has secured significant funding and is worth around $9 billion, of which the CEO owns a 50% stake.
According to to the San Jose Mercury News, Holmes is partnering with Walgreens to put a Theranos station in 21 stores in Palo Alto and Phoenix. Theranos uses a fingerstick to draw a micro sample of blood into a cartridge, which is loaded into a local reader for analysis. The results are sent wirelessly from the reader to a secure database.
Theranos is a Palo-Alto based, privately held health technology and medical laboratory services company housed in the same building Facebook’s first office was located. The company has developed tests that use micro-amounts of blood extracted with virtually no discomfort and which screen for 70 different conditions. Her labs use similar technology to traditional outfits, but are a fraction of the size and deliver results faster and at half the cost.
The company says the results are received faster than the usual three-day delay for centralised laboratory testing, up to 30 blood tests can be performed on a single blood sample, and its method ensures accuracy by eliminating or reducing most human handling and delays associated with traditional blood tests.
After working on the Human Genome project in Singapore, Holmes began forming her concepts for Theranos as a student at Stanford, when she envisioned ways to deliver medicine that would, at the same time, provide biofeedback.
Holmes’ vision is to have a Theranos lab within a mile of every city dweller. Theranos has a partnership with Walgreen to put a lab in 21 stores in Palo Alto and Phoenix. At this rate, it won’t be long before customer can get a blood test while waiting for prescriptions to be filled.