FOR MORE THAN TWO YEARS, Theranos, the lab testing company that says it intends to disrupt the clinical lab industry, has been the subject of cover sto- ries in many prominent consumer and business publications. Its masterful public relations campaign seems to have touched almost every hospital and health system CEO in this country.
How do I know this? Because, during the same two years, everywhere our editorial team has traveled, one of the first questions we get from pathologists and lab administrators is about THE DARK REPORT’s opinion of Theranos and its goal of disrupting the clinical lab industry. Invariably, during these conversations, the pathologists and lab executives will mention that they are regularly asked by their hospital CEOs and C-suite administrators about Theranos and its potential to dis- rupt the finances of the hospital and its outreach laboratory.
Until September 15, nearly all the media coverage of Theranos was positive and the theme of finger-stick collection, small specimens, multi-analyte tests with results in four hours, and a cost that is half of Medicare Part B clinical lab test fees, was accepted without question by such respected news organizations as Fortune, Wired, USAToday, and New Yorker. Given this media acceptance, why would the typical hospital CEO have any reason to question the assertions of Theranos and its CEO, Elizabeth Holmes? Add to this media blitz the highly-publicized agreement last spring between Theranos and Cleveland Clinic, and hospital CEOs had every reason to consider that Theranos could be a threat… if not a potential ally.
It is stunning at how quickly Theranos has turned from an object of media adoration to the subject of tough investigative reporting. Credit The Wall Street Journal for investing the time and money necessary to conduct a detailed probe into Theranos and the performance of its diagnostic technol- ogy. Following the publication of its front-page stories in September, other news outlets have begun their own investigations of Theranos.
As a consequence, the bloom seems to be off the Theranos rose, at least as far as the press is concerned. And, as you will read on pages 3-6, an undisclosed agreement between Theranos and Safeway is unraveling, all because Theranos’ diagnostic technology may not be performing to expectations. Thus, it may be safe to say that hospital CEOs may not need to worry about Theranos after all.