Making Precision Health a Reality Requires a Personal, Data-Driven Approach

Healthcare reform is a hot topic, and for good reason. We have a healthcare system that lacks a personalized approach to solving the puzzle of today’s most invasive diseases. We have a system that is expensive, fragmented and largely inaccessible to our underserved communities. The question is, how do we fix it?

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Make healthcare personal

We talk a lot about scaling patient engagement, but what does that mean and what are the benefits? It’s simple. An engaged and informed patient is more likely to own their health and proactively work with their doctor and various care teams. Two-way collaboration gives clinicians greater access to more actionable patient-generated data, making collaborative care possible while increasing the quality and accuracy of patient electronic health records (EHRs).

Precision requires diverse data

Combining patient, clinical, diagnostic and ‘omic data will give us a more diversified data set, changing the way we view health data and potential treatments.  But to analyze such diverse and large data sets will require new architectural approaches.  We will need to collect and store patient data in central and secure repositories when we can.  We will also need solutions that can accommodate large amounts of genomic data which isn’t efficient to move from the hospitals that generate and store it. Next-generation high performance computing (HPC) platforms that enable researchers from across our country to conduct large scale collaborative analytics on millions of people’s data wherever it resides, in an open and secure trust model will be key. On September 17, the Precision Medicine Initiative Working Group formed under the National Institutes of Health (NIH) made a very bold announcement that could change the future of medicine.  A cohort of one million or more Americans will volunteer to have their various healthcare data incorporated into a precision medicine platform that will accelerate research across many areas of health and disease. Researchers will now have a huge pool of diverse data to help them discover and quantify factors that contribute to illness, and then test approaches that can preserve health and treat disease.

Securing the ability for participants and institutions to efficiently access this broader dataset will be crucial. With imaging, genomic, and consumer generated data beginning to scale, we should start with commitments to and validation of interoperability standards from the outset, so we do not recreate the problems seen in traditional EHR data.

What questions do you have?

Learn more:

US Senate Committee on Health Education, Labor and Pension’s hearing

National Institutes of Health one million research cohort to help millions of Americans who suffer from disease