While many of us have been preoccupied with events relating to Theranos, two entrepreneurial brothers have deployed a DAT model in a drug stores in British Columbia. Their company is called HealthTab (see: Canadian pharmacies testing do-it-yourself blood test kiosks). Below are more details:
...[P]harmacies in Canada have begun installing do-it-yourself blood testing kiosks to help patients quickly check up on their health using just a tiny amount of blood. But not everyone thinks the testing systems are a good idea. Ten pharmacies in British Columbia are now offering one blood testing system called HealthTab, which was developed by a pair of brothers from Vancouver. After a pharmacist collects a few drops of blood from a finger prick, the sample is placed in a HealthTab machine which can then measure up to 21 key health markers, including cholesterol, triglycerides, kidney and liver function, blood sugar and more....There’s no need for a doctor's requisition, although there is a fee to use the system. But the company says it can offer results in just 15 minutes rather than days, with an accuracy that’s on par with most lab testing. Users don’t need to return to their doctors for the results; the system automatically uploads them to a secured website, where users can log in from home or from their phone to see their numbers.
HealthTab uses what I would call a "stat lab" approach to generate test results in minutes using blood samples obtained by a finger stick. The analyzer is the Piccolo Xpress manufactured by Abaxis which is the only portable diagnostic device to offer a full set of CLIA waived blood chemistry tests at the point-of-care. CLIA-waved is an important distinction here because it enables the devices to be run by personnel who are not medical technologists. Here's more information about quality control of the device supplied by HealthTab and here's a link to the HealthTab test menu. You may want to compare this device to the iStat system which has been used in stat lab setting by hospitals for decades. Abbott manufactures the i-STAT analyzer and also distributes the Piccolo Xpress.
The Piccolo Xpress provides multi-chemistry panels using 0.1cc of whole blood, serum, or plasma. The system employs reagent discs for up to 15 chemistry tests each. Care providers pipette the blood sample onto the disc, insert the disc into the analyzer, and results are printed or transferred to the customer's personal dashboard in about twelve minutes (see: LAB ACCURATE BLOOD CHEMISTRY ANALYSIS IN REAL TIME). Note that the device only performs chemistry tests on serum and not hematology tests like hematocrit, hemoglobin, and WBC count.
I am very supportive of DAT testing with the goal of engaging healthcare consumers in their own health surveillance. However, I think that the HealthTab model goes only part of the way toward an optimal lab testing solution for drug stores. The rapid results delivery is very satisfying but the absence of hematology tests is a disadvantage. There have also been some recent questions about the precision of finger stick samples (see: Rice University Researchers Publish Study about Variation in Drop-to-Drop Samples of Capillary Blood Collected by Fingerpick and Used for Clinical Laboratory Testing).
I favor a drug store model using a venipuncture sample for both immediate processing of some stat tests and also the option of ordering additional tests sent to a remote, full-function reference lab. This is a more robust approach that can attract both DAT-oriented consumers as well as physicia-submitted test orders for their patients. I was not able to find the out-of-pocket cost of the HealthTab tests. By the way, I have yet to meet a single person who prefers a finger stick over a venipuncture. The latter are less painful, result in a larger sample, and are free of concerns about the quality.