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Empowering Consumers With Point-of-Care Blood Testing

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Increasing consumer demands for affordable, transparent healthcare and improved access to personal health data are driving the shift away from centralized laboratory testing towards point-of-care testing. Benchtop blood testing systems capable of delivering results directly to consumers via their mobile devices will enable healthcare providers to meet patients where they are with convenient, rapid, patient-centered care.

In this interview, Technology Networks spoke with Dr Dena Marrinucci,
Truvian chief operating officer and co-founder, to learn more about the limitations of the current blood testing process and the role of point-of-care blood testing in driving healthier outcomes. Dr Marrinucci also discussed some of the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and their impact on the future of diagnostics.

Anna MacDonald (AM): Can you give us an overview of traditional laboratory-based blood testing?

Marrinucci (DM): The current blood testing process is broken. There are many steps involved, it can be costly, and the results are not available in real-time for the patient and the healthcare professional to have a dialogue.  

After waiting for an appointment and being seen by a healthcare professional, providers typically order routine blood tests as part of the annual wellness exam to get a better understanding of the patient’s health status. The patient is referred to the phlebotomist, who collects multiple blood tubes from the patient and ships the samples to a large, centralized lab for blood testing. It can take days or even weeks before the provider and patient receive the laboratory results. Once results are available, patients are no longer with their health care provider – and only during the follow-up appointment can patients and providers discuss what the results mean in the context of their overall health and any actions that need to be taken. Some patients may need to pay out-of-pocket for a portion or all of the costs if they haven’t met their deductible. 

The blood testing industry hasn’t evolved in two decades – and frankly, we and our loved ones deserve better. Although some advanced tests will continue to require existing technologies in centralized labs, we must be able to offer simpler, lower-cost, and patient-centered routine blood testing that provides lab-accurate results quickly. Our vision is to make routine health testing not only more convenient and affordable, but to facilitate the democratization of health data by delivering actionable results directly to consumers. Consumers should be empowered to be in control of their health choices; we want to help guide their journeys.

AM: What difference could a point-of-care benchtop blood testing system make to healthcare?

Routine blood testing is one of the most powerful tools we have when it comes to disease prevention, with 70% of all medical decisions depending on lab tests for diagnosis or treatment.  

Blood testing is in urgent need of innovation. With healthcare delivery shifting towards distributed, consumer-oriented settings such as retail clinics, consumers are demanding better ways to manage their health and wellness. Rapid point-of-care solutions will become a driving force in bringing routine testing to the everyday consumer. I co-founded 
Truvian to help make routine health testing convenient, affordable, and actionable – and most importantly, put consumers in control of their health. 

AM: Truvian
 aims to transform the blood testing industry. Can you tell us more about the system you are developing to achieve this? 

Historically, our healthcare system has focused on “sick care”, waiting until patients are symptomatic to diagnose and treat illnesses. This reactive approach is not only expensive, but also ineffective in addressing the health needs of our population. In order to live longer and healthier lives, providers and patients alike are shifting their focus to proactive disease prevention.  

Blood tests are the cornerstone of routine and preventive care services. 
Truvian’s benchtop blood testing platform will provide lab-accurate results in 20 minutes for a comprehensive suite of routine health tests in a single run – combining clinical chemistry, immunoassay, and hematology all within one instrument. Then, we'll provide results directly to healthcare professionals and patients – empowering consumers to understand their individual norms over time via an easy-to-use mobile app. 

We defined our comprehensive wellness panel by working with healthcare providers in a variety of settings – including primary care, corporate clinics, and retail clinics – to understand the commonly-ordered diagnostic tests that would make the largest impact on human health in terms of disease prevention. 

AM: Are there any specific challenges that must be addressed when developing a point-of-care diagnostic compared to a laboratory-based test?

Past challenges for point-of-care testing have centered around these particular areas of concern: How can we achieve rapid results? How can we ensure high quality? And how can we deliver all of this at a low cost? We also believe that the breadth of coverage is another important variable – it’s not convenient or practical for clinics to have five or six different platforms that each handle one type of test. By integrating three testing modalities – an unprecedented feat of innovation – we can deliver a truly comprehensive health panel in one run. In doing so, we’re trailblazing a new standard for diagnostics. 

AM: What about regulatory requirements to enable the system to be available to consumers in a retail setting?

Our platform will be regulated by the FDA. To fulfill the promise of convenient, affordable, and actionable blood testing, we will seek FDA clearance and a CLIA waiver. Our highest priority has and always will be the safety of the patients and providers we serve. 

AM: What testing issues has the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted and how are these likely to impact the future of diagnostics?

DM: This global pandemic has reinforced how far we still have to go to meet patients where they are with rapid and accurate results; sadly, we’ve seen that this can mean the difference between life and death. It doesn’t have to be this way. Diagnostics hold great promise for improving routine patient management and healthcare delivery at scale. At Truvian, we feel great responsibility and privilege in building a comprehensive reference lab for the most distributed healthcare settings – and ultimately, keeping as many people as possible healthy. 

Dr Dena Marrinucci was speaking to Anna MacDonald, Science Writer for Technology Networks.