If we ever solve our health care crisis, we’ll look back and see this combination of factors as key: increased price transparency paired with innovation both in medical technology and in the means of delivering care to patients. The BBC examines one such pairing in a recent piece on a new company called Theranos. Theranos, led by self-made billionaire Elizabeth Holmes, is developing a new, cheap way to test patients’ blood. Not only are Theranos’ prices far lower than other companies’, but the company lists its prices upfront, unlike others that only inform patients of the cost once the tests are complete. And that’s not all:
Much smaller blood samples are used to do tests – little more than a drop. And then the blood is analysed fast in company facilities – automated labs shrouded in proprietary secrecy. […]Theranos has recently launched an alliance with the largest drugstore chain in the USA.Walgreen’s has more than 8,500 stores all over the country, within five miles of a huge swathe of the US population. The stores have just started installing what are called Theranos Wellness Centres.
In this particular case, what may ultimately be the most important thing about Thernaos isn’t the technology it’s developing. Critics argue that the processes the company uses are only a slightly more efficient version of services already easily available. Rather, the most important part may be the way it models a partnership between clinics and new technology companies committed to price transparency and bringing down costs. The more we see of that kind of partnership, the closer we will get to maximizing access to cheap health care.