The Longevity

General Electric Designs a Less Painful Blood Test

December 14, 2017 | New Care Delivery, Care Coordination

A new technology for drawing blood developed by General Electric may soon be on its way. The technology results in a less painful and quicker blood draw and stabilizes the blood at using a proprietary matrix, meaning that the blood can be safely stored for days at room temperature before testing.

The device developed by [General Electric startup] Drawbridge Health is usable by untrained personnel, takes a tiny amount of blood from a skin prick and stabilizes it so it will keep for days at room temperature until it can reach the testing lab. It’s a technology that could one day be available for in-home use by patients.

Today’s widely used blood-draw procedures require a trained phlebotomist to puncture the patient’s vein and draw one or more vials of blood in a clinical setting, before sending the vials, which must be kept cool, to a lab.

The project’s developers hope that through facilitating easier, less painful blood draws, the device can improve access to diagnostic blood tests, resulting in improved outcomes and lower costs. The device could also potentially be adapted to allow patients to draw their own blood at home. 

Drawbridge hasn’t named its device yet, nor released photos of it. But prototypes have been tested on volunteers including [General Motors executive Risa] Stack, who found it noticeably less painful than the traditional venipuncture blood draw and also less painful than the fingertip-prick done for blood sugar monitoring.

The device withdraws less than a milliliter of blood. It can be used anywhere on the arm but is typically placed near the shoulder. Because it is not pulling blood from the vein, it does not require the skill of a phlebotomist, and it works well on patients with hard-to-find veins.

Making the blood tests easier, it is hoped, will allow for better tracking of medical conditions and response to therapy, saving time, money and even lives….

Stack said the device is part of a health care industry trend toward giving patients increased control over treatment and decreased time away from work or other activities for clinical settings.

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