Elizabeth Holmes is the founder of Theranos, a company that is dedicated to saving lives by inventing medical tests that are fast, convenient, and cheap. Theranos is definitely a disruptor to the medical testing industry as Kimberly Weisul reports (“The Longest Game” Inc. October 2015. pp. 48–51, 146, 147):
“Theranos, now valued at $10 billion, has developed blood tests that detect hundreds of conditions and diseases from a couple of drops of blood from the finger, instead of tubes of blood from a vein in the arm. . . . Holmes aims to enable anyone to get lab tests—for anything from cholesterol to cancer—on his or her own at a local pharmacy for no more than half of what Medicare would pay. Holmes believes that providing faster, more convenient, and less expensive access to lab tests will transform preventive medicine. En route, she may also undo the profitable medical test industry, currently dominated by two decades-old behemoths, Quest Diagnostics and Laboratory Corporation of America. ‘I don’t think anyone disputes that Elizabeth and her team are visionaries,’ says Gary St. Hilaire, the president and CEO of Capital BlueCross, which recently became a Theranos partner.” (p. 50)
I welcome the healthcare disruption. I am excited by the Theranos approach as I am excited by any new approach that puts more power into the consumer’s hands. The ongoing escalation of healthcare costs has woken up many previously lethargic consumers to the reality that they must assume more control. Theranos provides one way to assume some control.
Speaking of control, many consumers have embraced the marvelous field of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Acupuncture, chiropractic, massage therapy, reflexology, and many other modalities have become very popular. Many consumers are finding that CAM is enabling them to resolve medical ailments long before they escalate to the need for surgery or other drastic measures. Likewise, for consumers that did experience surgeries, they are finding that CAM greatly helps their healing and maintenance process.
Finally, these disruptive new technologies and options all help to give consumers more choice and usually at lower costs. This addresses a fundamental ethical point concerning finances. While I will be the first to agree that businesses must earn a profit so that they can remain in business and advance their industries, simultaneously, businesses must assess their role as a corporate citizen within the human community. I appreciate the way Holmes summarizes this point:
“‘The premise that you’re going to run a business, and that if someone is in need, I’m going to charge them a ton of money, is completely wrong.’” (p. 146)