Self-Made Billionaire Elizabeth Holmes On Re-inventing Blood Tests: "It's Like Cocaine"
Elizabeth Holmes, America's youngest female self-made billionaire (and MAKER), has been tackling the health-care industry since she was 19. At Vanity Fair's New Establishment Summit, she took a swing at the gun lobby, as well.
"In this country, we can buy weapons and kill ourselves, but we can't buy access to our own health records," she said.
Holmes founded Theranos, a company that can run up to 70 lab tests on blood from a single pinprick in less time and for less money than traditional tests, after dropping out of Stanford. Theranos tests don’t use the type of needles that normally tend to keep patients from getting necessary tests and information. The company also acts as a way for patients to go in for their own tests, without having to wait for a doctor to call one in or read them.
As one audience member noted, the cost of his Vitamin D test through a normal lab was more than $200. Through Theranos, it was approximately $20.
Maria Shriver, who moderated the panel, brought up the fact that change in an industry known for aggressively resisting it meant that Holmes spent 10 years working seven days a week, wearing the same outfit (a black turtleneck and pants) to streamline and save time. Shriver asked her what, at 19 years old, made her think she could shift this whole paradigm and want to devote that kind of time to it.
"I've never done drugs, but it's like cocaine. It's incredibly addicting. You work so hard and you try so much," Holmes said.
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