America on the Lookout for Affordable Blood Testing Options

Concerned with the number of Americans who are opting out of healthcare altogether, because of rising costs, several media outlets have become concerned with popularizing cost-efficient methods for getting properly diagnosed, tested, and treated. According to an early 2011 CBS feature, perhaps one of the most useful resources for proper medical care comes under the form of affordable blood testing, which can be ordered online and undertaken in the patient’s own home. Yet another boon of online order lab work is that the results come in far quicker than those from a regular clinic, and they often cost far less. According to one patient, whose total health care costs amount to $5,000, before insurance, monitoring elevated cholesterol levels can cost up to $500-$800 when visiting a doctor’s office. By signing up online, the same patient ended up paying under $30 for the exact same type of blood test.

Further research at revealed that patients can save up on numerous types of tests. While a Complete Metabolic Panel and Complete Blood Count can cost $80 at a real-life lab, they only cost $39 when ordered online. Similar cost cuts also apply for Lipid Profiles ($88 at a regular lab, $39 online), a prostate test, or PSA ($234 at a lab, $49 online), a Hemoglobin A1c ($66 at a lab, $49 online), or a testosterone test, which only costs $129, instead of $320.

Technological advances also play a major part in the benefits of such tests. David Klotzkin, an electrical engineering associate professor with Binghamton University, recently made headlines, when he and his University of Cincinnati research partner developed a cutting-edge technology called fluorescence-based monitoring, which stands to revolutionize the future of blood tests. Klotzkin and electrical engineering associate professor Ian Papautsky realized that polarized fluorescent light waves, which are subsequently channeled through filters, can accurately target, light up and measure the levels of certain particles. Such technology had been making use of discrete colored light until now, which entailed substantially higher costs. Klotzkin and Papautsky’s invention, however, employs white light, which allows their brain-child to stand smaller and cost less, while also working faster.

According to the two inventors, in time, this technology could come to save doctors a lot of time and money in trying to identify viruses in their patients’ blood samples. Such technology currently makes use of flow cytometers, which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars – while their device involves no more than a $400 syringe pump, a $400 camera and affordable tubes. This makes it both much more cost-efficient, as well as more user-friendly for doctors around the country. At the moment, Klotzkin is looking into methods of mass production, together with the company he is working for. SFC Fluidics is a company dedicated to biomem research, as well as to developing new, cheap blood tests based on fluorescence technology. And the researchers are confident that they will manage to bring their products to the market, since they claim that the prototype is probably better than most similar products available commercially. But their main focus is to also make it compellingly cheap, which is a line of reasoning most patients can’t help but agree with.


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