Disrupting Phlebotomy

For my disruptive technology, I picked the changing field of Phlebotomy. Also more commonly known as drawing blood.

At the age of 19, Elizabeth Holmes left Stanford University and started Theranos. “Her idea: No more vials. No more tourniquets. Just a pinprick of blood gathered in a container smaller than a dime. And up to 70 lab tests can be run on one drop of blood in less time than traditional tests” (Crane, 2014).

tiny blood test

Retrieved from https://www.theranos.com/

So does it fit the bill of a disruptive technology? “The technology is rapidly advancing or experiencing breakthroughs. Disruptive technologies typically demonstrate a rapid rate of change in capabilities in terms of price/performance relative to substitutes and alternative approaches, or they experience breakthroughs that drive accelerated rates of change or discontinuous capability improvements” (Manyika, 2013). Yes, it absolutely does.

Ms. Holmes “has taken on the $76 billion laboratory-diagnostic industry as her target. It’s an industry that was just waiting to be disrupted, since blood testing has not changed since the modern clinical lab emerged in the 1960s” (Crane, 2014).

Furthermore, she’s not done yet. “Our mission is to make actionable information accessible to everyone at the time it matters. By making actionable information accessible to everyone in the world at the time it matters most, we are working to facilitate the early detection and prevention of disease, and empower people everywhere to live their best possible lives” (Theranos, 2015).


In order to accomplish this, she wants to have this technology within five miles of any American. They have teamed up with Walgreens and are building Theranos Wellness Centers within their stores. They plan to roll-out across 8,200 U.S. neighborhoods.

It is very easy for a growing company to lose sight of its mission. I think Theranos will remain disruptive for two reasons:

  • Data: we know that the world is evolving with more data available, not less. It is the same in the medical industry. This testing and process will allow rapid diagnosis and solutions.
    • Example: Fertility testing. “Most people pay for it out of pocket, and it can cost as much as $2,000. These tests provide the data you need to figure out someone’s fertility, and some women can’t afford them. Our new fertility panel is going to cost $35. That means women will be able to afford the tests. They’ll be able to better manage the process and take some of the stress out of trying to conceive” (Roper, 2014).
  • Transparency: they list the prices of over 1,000 tests on their site. After my twins were born, I went line item by line item through my bill and called the hospital to question duplication. The finance manager said that he had never had that type of conversation with anyone that didn’t work in finance or was a Doctor. Check it out:

test menu

Retrieved from https://www.theranos.com/test-menu


Anyone afraid of needles?


Crane, R. (2014, October 16). She’s America’s youngest billionaire – and a dropout. CNN Money. Retrieved from http://money.cnn.com/2014/10/16/technology/theranos-elizabeth-holmes/.

Manyika, J., et.al. (2013). Disruptive Technologies: Advances that will transform life, business and the global economy. (Executive Summary) McKinsey Global Institute. Retrieved April 24, 2014, from: http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/business_technology/disruptive_technologies

Roper, C. (2014, February 18). This woman invented a way to run 30 lab tests on only one drop of blood. Wired. Retrieve from http://www.wired.com/2014/02/elizabeth-holmes-theranos/.

Theranos. (2015). Thearnos Mission. Theranos. Retrieved from https://www.theranos.com/company.


  1. You do have a fabulous blog thanks.

  2. Really enjoyed this forum topic.Really looking forward to read more. Cool. Leverett


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