We could go on and on about how great Canadian healthcare is, mainly because it’s free. But there is one thing we don’t love about our ‘flawless’ healthcare system: the seemingly endless waits. And we’re not just talking about the wait to see a doctor. We’re talking about getting a legitimate, accurate diagnosis–because sometimes, the fear of the unknown is more terrifying than the actual diagnosis. Plus, the faster we can get our diagnosis, the faster we can start getting proper treatment for it.
And that’s why we’re grateful to Dr. Paul Lem, his brother John and Dr. Jamie Spiegelman for creating a new invention: the first miniature laboratory. The Spartan Cube is a small device that has the potential to erase the wait time for getting diagnosed. Right now, the cube can detect STDs, food-borne illnesses and other types of infections (like strep throat). So long to the days of us sitting around, getting sicker while we wait for our doctors or labs to get our results back to us.
The cube can process a diagnosis in 30 minutes or less. And all it takes is a cheek swab that gets placed into a compartment in the top of the device–good news to everyone who hates blood tests and throat swabs. Then, the cube will analyze the DNA from the swab, determining whether you have an infection or a disease, and get you the diagnosis ASAP (the results will be sent to a doctor’s tablet or a laptop).
“We get instant email, instant communication and so why should it be that lab results should take that long to get back to you?” Lem said.
Eventually, the cube’s developers hope that it’ll be available in homes so people can completely skip the wait times to see a doctor and get their diagnosis whenever they want.
“I think this is really going to change the way we treat our patients,” Spiegelman said. “Tests like this are really the future of medicine.”
Currently, the cube’s being tested in Ottawa to see if heart specialists can cut down the wait time for a seven-day genetic test through the device.
“We are able to test this technology and prove that, in the context of real patients, we can identify the gene and then pick the right drug for the right patient,” said Dr. Derek So, who works as an associate professor at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.
If we can wait just a little longer for the cube to become available to Canadian doctors, we may never have to wait for a diagnosis again. Patience is key… for now.