Silicon Valley company Theranos has recently sealed a deal with Walgreen’s Pharmacy (the largest pharmacy chain in the USA) to deliver on-site laboratory services to many of its stores. Blood is drawn with a finger stick and your results are available 4 hours later. Not sure if they are sent to you as well as your doctor (wouldn't that be great!).
From the article, a rather dubious claim:-
"All of the diagnostic technology is integrated, which increases precision. Each machine in a conventional lab may calibrate differently, and the mix of brands and ages in means results come with an implied “or so” at the end. Plotting results over time is therefore mostly useless."
Personally, I'd prefer to have my blood testing done by the same pathology laboratory where I would anticipate regular calibrations were performed and I know that someone will actually look at an unusual result. Obtaining accurate non-lymphocyte blood counts can be a challenge for automated machines, with the vast number of B-lymphocytes sometimes confusing the counting.
I'd also be suspicious of how often these pharmaceutical based testers would be calibrated and where the calibration was done. If the test unit is "returned to base" for calibration, what guarantee is there that transport back to the pharmacy (or another pharmacy, as they'd probably be rotated) hasn't impacted the calibration?
Given over 5 billion blood tests are performed every year in the USA alone, this is obviously an attractive market. If In Pharmacy blood testing becomes more readily available, it could be useful for a quick check out of hours or over the weekend, but for serious concerns, I think a visit to A&E might be preferable.
The accompanying photo is not the control panel for a blood analyser, but part of the Wessex Helicopter cockpit. The Wessex was used by Australian forces in the the Vietnam war 40 years ago.