Miracle patch

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By Godofredo M. Roperos

Politics also

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


THERE was this 19-year-old sophomore student in chemical engineering at Stanford University, according to the Fortune magazine issue of June 30, who founded her own “revolutionary blood diagnostics company” and bargained it into an establishment that is now “worth more than $3 billion, and (is presently poised) to change the health care” system of the United States (US).

The chief of orthopedic trauma saw an opportunity to enlist the lab services in the identification of so-called hospital-acquired infection, a major scourge in health care up to now. “It is real data,” the orthopedic chief said it’s their interpretation. The orthopedic chief later became member of the advisory board.

The founder of the revolutionary blood diagnostics company, called Theranos (which comes from the words “therapy” and “diagnos”), is Elizabeth Holmes.

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The firm that the 19-year-old Holmes founded in 2003 is considered a “highly disruptive upstart in America’s $73 million diagnostic-lab industry, which is said to perform nearly 10 billion tests a year and is estimated to provide the basis for about 70 percent of doctors’ medical decisions. Medic care and Medicaid reportedly each pay roughly $10 billion annually on reimbursements for these tests.

The strength of Theranos lies on what is called “a high-complexity laboratory, certified by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and is licensed to operate in nearly all states. It currently offers more than 200--and is ramping up to offer more than 1,000--of the most commonly ordered blood diagnostic tests, all without the need for a syringe.

Its tests can be performed on just a few drops of blood, or about 1/100th to 1/1000th of the amount that would ordinarily be required--an extraordinary potential boon to frequently tested hospital patients.”

The wonder about this extraordinary health corporation is the fact that although “little known and privately held, Theranos has assembled “what may be, in terms of public service, the most illustrious board in US corporate history. It includes three former US Cabinet secretaries, two former US senators, a retired Navy admiral, and a retired Marine Corps general.”

It is said that in 2011, the company’s founder had realized that “changing the way health care is delivered in this country would require the help of great strategists.”

Thus, Theranos founder Holmes, after about eleven years, with help of George Shultz who had held four Cabinet level positions including his “stint” as director of the Office of Management and Budget, and also president of engineering giant Becthel Group, was captivated by what Holmes’ technologies meant to health care.

He joined the group later. Three years after, most of the other board directors of Theranos were people Shultz introduced to Holmes. Today, I believe, the health care system in the US came about through the heart and idealistic bent of mind by a 19-year old, second year college girl whose genius created a miracle “patch.”

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 16, 2014.

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