Phlebotomists—who draw blood for clinical or medical testing—have a choice of work arrangements these days. Alongside normal types of jobs at labs and hospitals, they can become an "Iggy": a freelancer in an Uber-like network of mobile service provision.
Iggbo, based in Richmond, Virginia, is the latest company to apply the on-demand model to a service industry, and it claims already to be cutting costs for labs and hospitals. Instead of having to pay people full-time, they can now pay phlebotomists per blood draw, much how Uber pays its drivers.
"The platform finds all the labor, recruits it, vets it, and makes sure they're all qualified and have experience in drawing blood in our network, much like an Uber-type platform," says Nuno Valentine, Iggbo's CEO and co-founder.
"It can be much cheaper for them than what they have today. It becomes a variable cost rather than a fixed cost, so they don't have to hire phlebotomists who are sitting idle. They only pay per draw. It makes it much more efficient for them."
Iggbo, which launched last year, currently has 8,000 phlebotomists on its books, working in 18 states. Physicians order tests through the platform. Patients get a code that allows them to schedule an appointment. Then a phlebotomist turns up with their syringe kit, whether it's at an office or at home. The sample is either delivered by the phlebotomist to a lab's dropbox, or sent via Fedex or UPS.
Valentine points to the increased convenience for patients and flexibility for phlebotomists who now choose when they want to work. He claims they can double their current income, though this seems somewhat unlikely. The typical amount paid for each blood draw is only $20, he says.
That said, Iggbo could certainly make things easier for patients who no longer have to wait around to get their blood drawn. And you can see how the service could be part of a tele-health system where you'd never have to visit a doctor at all.
"You can envision a time where your bedroom is your waiting room and you go through the [diagnostic] process on your tablet," Valentine says. "Someone comes to your home, draws your blood, takes your vitals, sends it in, and the prescription shows up. Those are the networks we're building that I think will be transformative to health care down the road."