Innovations Might Reduce Need for Phlebotomists

ALREADY A SERIOUS PROBLEM PRIOR TO THE PANDEMIC, the shortage of trained phlebotomists continues to grow more serious with each passing month. Some clinical laboratories are offering wages of $25 per hour or more and say they cannot attract enough candidates to hire and train for this essential role. 

However, there is a company developing new technologies and a different model of lab testing that would allow any individual to collect capillary blood specimens using a novel device. The good news is that, once this device reaches the market, it could significantly reduce the need for phlebotomists to collect venous blood specimens. But much must happen before this vision becomes reality. 

The company is Austin, Texas-based Babson Diagnostics. Although it will require more time for Babson to finish development of these technologies, acquire regulatory clearance, and launch its service in the marketplace, it has the potential to be a positive disruption to the status quo in the collection of clinical laboratory specimens. 

This company and its vision for launching a new hybrid model that involves decentralized sample collection and central lab testing was showcased at last April’s Executive War College in New Orleans. Responding to its survey of consumer likes and dislikes about different aspects of laboratory testing, Babson designed the device to play to consumers’ preference of convenient blood draw locations and greater comfort during the procedure. (See our coverage starting here.) 

Babson’s hybrid approach is one more example of how an emerging company has, as its primary goal, introduction of a better solution to existing products and workflow involved in collecting, processing, and testing clinical laboratory samples. The company wants to flip the model of blood collection from one of centralized draw stations, such as around a hospital campus, to one of decentralized draw sites, such as at retail pharmacies. Pharmacy staff would collect lab specimens, which lessens the need for hard-to-find phlebotomists to draw the blood. In this amended approach, the samples are still sent to a centralized laboratory for analytics. 

This isn’t to say that Babson’s technology will be a home run with laboratory buyers. But it is certainly ambitious to want to disrupt the long-standing method of using trained phlebotomists to collect venous blood. 

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