Elizabeth Holmes is the world's youngest self-made female billionaire, but it's not her wealth that makes her an extraordinary personality, it's her determination to fix America's broken healthcare system.
During a recent speech at TEDMED 2014, the 30-year-old stated,
In the United States today, healthcare is the leading cause of bankruptcy, and the lack of it, the leading cause of the suffering associated with finding out too late... that someone you love is really really sick.
This is precisely why she dropped out of college to establish her own company, Theranos.
According to Holmes,
I believe the individual is the answer to the challenges of healthcare.
Holmes created a technology that makes blood tests as simple as the prick of a finger. She's always hated needles and wanted to make the tests easier, cheaper and more accessible.
Unfortunately, many people don't have access to vital health information because blood tests are costly and time-consuming.
Not to mention, many people are so afraid of needles and blood that, instead of obtaining potentially life-saving medical information, they avoid the tests altogether.
And depending on one's insurance, blood tests can be pretty expensive. Yet, they can often mean the difference between life and death.
Simply put, it's unacceptable that in a country as developed as the United States, a basic medical test is so difficult.
Accordingly, Holmes created a hardware and software that allows for blood tests to be done by pricking one's finger and storing the blood in a tiny vial called a nanotainer.
Now, instead of having to go to a doctor's office or lab, people can complete blood tests at pharmacies. This technology allows for one drop of blood to be used for multiple tests, and the results only take a couple of hours.
Her new test is more affordable, more efficient and painless.
For Holmes, this is a moral issue.
According to Holmes,
The right to protect the health and well-being of every person of those we love is a basic human right.
Indeed, the key to preventing disease, suffering and death is early detection. This is precisely what Holmes' technology allows for.
This future is beginning now, but engagement begins with the individual. If I had one wish... it would be that today, just for minute, you'd think about the fact that we have... a human right to engage with information about ourselves, about our bodies. When we do that, we will change our lives, and the lives of those we love will change. And we'll begin to change our healthcare system, and our world.
The world needs more innovators like Elizabeth Holmes. We move forward when individuals step up and combine ingenuity with a desire to improve the lives of others.