A Drop of Blood

A Drop of Blood

What can be discerned from a drop of blood? Apparently a lot more and a lot quicker than any of us ever thought. While you may never hear of Elizabeth Holmes, you may someday, in the very near future, utilize the technology that she devised and is now distributing.

But before we get to Elizabeth Holmes it bears remembering what the state of diabetic care was and we get there. When I diagnosed, like many here, I used clinistix and before that clinitest. Very few of us who ever had to use the often dreaded much derided clinitest or clinitest will tell you that the process was more than difficult. For those who have no idea what I speak of, here is a brief outline.

First one had to collect urine. Once collected x number of drops of urine were put in a test tube with x number or water (I think anyway) a tablet dropped in the solution and then wait exactly 30 seconds at which time the patient would compare the color of the sample with the color chart printed on the bottle. This would yield some important information, namely the degree of sugar in ones urine. The units were expressed in terms of the + sign. So 1+ was not bad, but 4+ was meant the glucose was very high and typically your parent would be after you. This certainly beat the original method of glucose detection, which was tasting the urine.

Clinistix are test devices that work just like except they were on a large plastic piece of paper that you would be instructed to pee on. Keeping in the stream going was also a challenge, but so not splashing it all over you and the wall, pants and wall and floor. Yes it was a mess.

So what did we learn from these rather arcane tests? Well first I suppose we learned the amount of glucose in the urine at that moment. Most of us learned, if we were children, how easy it is to fake the test. We learned how to dilute the sample, so our result was lower than actual. That way we could leave the house etc. Maybe our aim got better, mine didn’t. I suspect some younger kids learned to count to 5. We learned to void first, then take the sample and we all learned that past 30 seconds, our blood sugar usually got worse. In short we learned things children need have learned, well except maybe for the counting.

Then of course we got blood testing and like urine testing the blood result had to be compared to a color. Mine always seemed to be something akin to 400. I mean who knew for certain. Oh the blood testing kits, they would have required their own overhead baggage area that is if you could get them past the TSA today (doubtful). It has been my experience the TSA does not react well to junior chemistry sets on airplanes. Go figure?

Now in comes Elizabeth Homes. Ms. Holmes has devised a blood test that is being installed at select Walgreens which takes a very small pin prick of blood and can perform up to 150 sophisticated tests on it. Your doctor gets the order within 4 hours of taking the test and it is done by collecting the sample from the machine and running it at a specially designed lab. Need a CBC? The doctor orders it and four hours later he and presumably you have the result. All form a finger stick slightly larger than a blood glucose meter sample of today.

Here is the article:


It must be costly correct? Wrong.

“The company plans to charge less than 50 percent of the standard Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates. And unlike the rest of the testing industry, Theranos lists its prices on its website: blood typing, $2.05; cholesterol, $2.99; iron, $4.45. 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. “ Elizabeth Holmes

You have got to check this out, it is amazing. Right now it is in Silicon Valley in the future it will be distributed nationwide. WOW, I for one cannot wait. Sure beats tasting or ahh miscounting the drops or maybe not sometimes?



I always thought one should get their blood work/labs/test done the week before actually seeing the doctor. That way you could discuss your results with your doctor instead of them calling you or sending you a report afterwards. Maybe it is just me, thinking backwards again!