The black cloud hanging over Elizabeth Homes, founder of Theranos and the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire, just became a thunderstorm. A July 8th Wall Street Journal article detailed the collapse and the challenges now facing both Theranos and Holmes, who has been banned from the clinical laboratory industry for two years. If you are not a Theranos investor, take cheer; this storm cloud has a silver lining.
Here are at least four positive outcomes for the rest of us resulting from Theranos’ epic rise and fall.
The first blessing that needs to be recognized is the fact that there have been no fatalities linked to Theranos’ misleading blood testing. It is not difficult to envision the lack of compliance resulting in a rash of patient deaths. Let’s be thankful that the victim list is primarily comprised of speculative investors.
The most shocking element of this story is that it took so long to be exposed. How did Theranos bamboozle the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), celebrity board members and investors for so long? The lessons learned from this debacle should make the industry safer going forward. A safer industry means better patient care.
Despite the fact that 70% of physician’s medical decisions are made based on laboratory-generated data, the clinical laboratory industry has not drawn the same investor interest as mobile apps that help you hail a ride after a night of drinking. It is an old industry and not as sexy as newer emerging markets; however, the attention that Theranos garnered from the investment community has attracted interest to other laboratory investment opportunities, which should translate to saved lives.
MLP Job Security
As the Administrator of a Facebook Group of 10,000+ medical laboratory professionals (MLPs) and a group of 65,000+ on LinkedIn, I was frequently surprised by the tone of the comments when the topic of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos surfaced, which was frequently. Surprisingly, most MLPs were not fans of Holmes.
Many were intuitively skeptical of the company’s claim that they could run hundreds of tests on a single drop of blood, and many others were just plain scared. If an instrument could do all these lab tests would the world still need clinical laboratorians? Those concerned MLPs can now rest easy knowing that their jobs are secure. Actually, they will probably be working overtime on Christmas as the demand for laboratory staff continues to outpace the supply.