Welcome to my blog, a place to explore and learn about the experience of running a psychiatric practice. I post about things that I find useful to know or think about. So, enjoy, and let me know what you think.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Buncha Stuff

Stuff #1: I'm now on Twitter. Yay! Follow me, @PsychPractice1. You can just click the button to the right.

Stuff #2: Check out Ben Goldacre speaking at Mach 1 on the topic of nocebo. Really, you can hear the boom as he breaks the sound barrier. It's at the bottom of his most recent post, which discusses his article on the side effects of statins, and has a link to an interesting article that compares the results listed in Clinical Study Reports (CSR's) with their corresponding publications. Wanna guess the conclusion?

Stuff #3: I'm fascinated by a company I read about in Wired. It's called Theranos, and its product is lab tests. Cheap lab tests. From 1 drop of blood. With results in 4 hours. The founder, Elizabeth Holmes, dropped out of Stanford, and started the company with her tuition money. A few months ago, it opened its lab doors in a Walgreens on Palo Alto.
So let's take a look.
You have 1 drop of blood drawn from a finger stick. You can order up to 30 labs from this one sample. Here's a link to the menu of tests, which includes their costs. A CBC with Diff costs $5.35. Hemoglobin A1C is $6.67. And according to the Wired article, a panel of fertility tests, which normally costs $2000, is $35.
You can even add on a lab later, from the same sample. And they get results in, on average, 4 hours. This includes measuring the DNA of pathogens, rather than culturing, although I couldn't find the test for this on the menu-I don't know what it's called.
My question is, how does the accuracy compare to standard testing. Holmes claims that most error is due to humans, and all their testing is automated. But I'm skeptical.
If it turns out to be true, though, I'll be impressed (and I'll want to plunk some investment money into the company).


  1. I agree this approach to lab testing is disruptive to the typical clinic and hospital based approach. The prices are very reasonable even though many are ala carte. I would like to see the physician taken out of the loop and the direct to customer approach for those people that want it. I have been using a lab like for for several years in the Twin Cities area and ordering my own tests (like any other walk in customer can). I think that makes sense and would like to see Theranos offer the same service.

  2. The direct-to-patient approach didn't seem to be part of the deal, but I think that would be great, too. Although there's always the risk of mis- or over-interpretation of results by people who are inexperienced at looking at labs. I know this from experiences with family members, who have freaked out over insignificant blips in test results.