The blood test gets a makeover

Wired Magazine, December 21, 2010

The blood test is, when you think about it, a remarkable thing. With the prick of a needle, the molecules coursing through your veins can be extracted, centrifuged, and translated into a stream of digits, units, and acronyms. Blood becomes data, and in these numbers lies knowledge about your current health, your risks for disease, and your potential response to treatment.

Of course, you yourself would have a hard time deciphering any of this. The typical blood test report is an exercise in obfuscation, a document that needs to be translated by a lab technician or physician, and that’s if you somehow manage to see a copy of your results. In many US states, it’s illegal for a laboratory to send test results directly to a patient—a regulatory puzzle that leads some labs to simply deny direct results to any customer, anywhere. The blood may be yours—but the information it contains is not.

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