Posted on September 19, 2014 at 18:46 PM
Last week’s TEDMED conference at DC’s Kennedy Center was the bleeding edge of innovation—literally. A small area in the Hive, networking central that played host to 50 cool technology startups, showcased a company I had read about in Forbes, Theranos.
The California-based Theranos is revolutionizing the way blood is drawn from the body for analysis. No more are individuals subject to having their arms wrapped in tight tubing to expose a vein for a phlebotomist to draw blood from, often in vial after vial. The Theranos procedure involves a prick of a finger to deposit about 20 microliters of blood in a small collection device. A microliter is a unit of liquid volume equal to one millionth of a liter. Think a couple of drops.
I decided to give it a try. Theranos was offering a complimentary cholesterol test. I registered online to give my permission and then a phlebotomist wrapped a warm gel pack around my left index finger for a few seconds in order to send blood closer to the skin. She then covered my finger with what looked like a small cloth before pricking it. Honestly, I couldn’t feel it, and I’ve had my finger pricked before.
While no pictures were allowed of the collection unit, it looked key-sized and in the shape of a flat oval with two tubes coming to a squared-off point that drew blood from my finger into two tiny vials, which were no bigger than a No. 2 eraser head pencil. That was it. In two days or less, the phlebotomist said I’d have my results.
I downloaded the Theranos app and installed it on my iPhone. Two days later, I checked in and found the results of my cholesterol test—187 mg, which is in the “desirable” level. Anything between 200 mg and 239 mg is borderline high. Above that, and your cholesterol is too high.
The Theranos procedure collects enough blood to conduct a myriad of tests. The cholesterol test is one that does not require a doctor’s prescription. I was eager to learn more about the other non-script tests, but it varies from state to state. The cholesterol one is pretty standard.
Right now, the Theranos blood-drawing procedure is available through Walgreens in California and Arizona. Like the great gold rush to the West, this blood drive is heading East, to a Walgreens near you.