Walgreens and Theranos, blood test

Walgreens and Theranos are teaming up.
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Walgreens will soon offer lab space to Theranos, a biotech company that performs lab tests using micro-samples of blood and other bodily fluids.

Theranos, based out of Palo Alto, California, will first set up shop in a Walgreens at 300 University Ave. in the city, according to Yahoo Finance. Following the initial rollout of its services, Theranos will expand to several Walgreens locations across the country.

The announcement of the partnership between the two companies will come as welcome relief to those people needing blood tests completed but find themselves short on cash.

Through automation and efficiency, Theranos can offer low prices for its procedures, which include blood, urine, and fluid tests. Rates, Yahoo says, reach down to less than 50 percent of Medicare reimbursement rates. A majority of major insurance carriers reimburse the costs of tests, as well.

Micro-sample are what they sound like. Theranos completes blood tests, for instance, with only a drop of a patient’s blood. Tests such as these should remove much of the need for large needle sticks and multiple vials of blood.

Machines take care of the work that humans once did. Cameron Scott at Singularity Hub mentions that machines draw blood with single finger stick and then proceed to test the sample. There is no human intervention. Therefore, there is no human error.

This may be good news for doctors, who desire accurate and timely fluid tests. Indeed, Yahoo points out, patients who require frequent blood draws — such as the elderly or those with cancer — will also benefit from the lack of invasion and ease of access.

However, Theranos’s labs require no phlebotomists or lab techs to handle and process blood samples. This deal won’t drastically reduce national need for such positions in the short term, but the face of medicine as a whole could be affected long term as labs open up at more Walgreens locations.

Image courtesy of GrahamColm via Wikimedia Commons