Many articles and discussions have centered around the rise and demise of Theranos. The company valuation and strategy was based on their technology for running multiple tests, at reduced cost, utilizing a pin prick instead of a regular needle blood draw. Learned lessons from the devaluation and closing of Theranos labs and blood testing centers include the lack of transparency, the need for thoroughly vetting new innovation, the requirement to understand the market, the need to support vision with qualified proof of concept, as well as deficient oversight and due diligence, to name a few. One lesson of success, however, has been overlooked – the model that was established.
Leaders in the healthcare industry tout the need for enabling consumers to be more engaged with their own health. The vision for Theranos to offer new blood testing technology also precipitated three key factors supporting increased consumerism: 1) having lab results sent simultaneously to consumers and to their physician within 24 hours; 2) the passage of AZ law HB 2645 enabling individuals to obtain their own blood tests from a licensed clinical lab without a doctor’s order; and 3) easier access to get lab tests performed through multiple, local health and wellness pharmacies. This paradigm has not been discussed as successful, and one key component for involvement and control over an individual’s own health, expanding the traditional care continuum to a health maintenance continuum.
This model of lab testing still has benefit, and feasible if costs are not prohibitive, in conjunction with adding access to a health champion for education and sound decision making of how to incorporate lab values with health assessment, medications, and tests, within an ongoing, overarching health care plan.
As a wonderful example of this successful model: A 72 year old Medicare woman was on blood thinners and needed her INR checked. She was in a state of consternation because the doctor office was closed and her prescription was out. After learning she could just go to a local lab herself only two blocks from her house, she had the INR results emailed to her within 24 hours for the cost of $7. She then was able to speak to her doctor’s office when it opened, with the results, for immediate prescription renewal of the correct dosage.
With the many lessons learned from an aborted startup marketed to disrupt the healthcare industry with its technology, the direction for having a consumer-driven, health-ownership process and platform should not be overlooked, and actually be revisited as well as expanded upon.