What is Precision Health?

What is Precision Health?

Precision health, also known as personalized medicine is an approach that stratifies patients into groups and makes informed clinical decisions for the delivery of treatment and interventions based on the patients’ anticipated response.

There is a huge overlap between the phrases precision medicine and personalized medicine, with the latter an older team generally meaning the same thing. However, data is the cornerstone for both.

Personalized medicine approaches to disease management are tailored to the patient. Patient health is managed on an individual level to achieve the most optimal state of health possible. For example, our genetic variations determine how our bodies would respond to a particular drug. 

One drug might not fit everyone’s requirement. Each person has a unique version of the human genome with around 10% of disease risk based on genetics. Two people taking the same dose of the same drug might respond differently. Using personalized medicine, a right combination of a drug and its dose can be selected for everyone. 

Groups of particular patients may share common genome characteristics and thus the risk of disease. For instance, research demonstrates people of South Asian descent have a higher prevalence of type 2 diabetes compared to Caucasians. 

Personalized medicine allows us to become precise in the delivery of treatment, pathways and interventions to patients. It enables providers to focus on value, rather than volume.

This approach to medicine is not new, and healthcare professionals have been using this approach since the time of Hippocrates. However, the hyper-­personalization achievable from the use of the patient genome and its falling cost—and medical data from health records, wearable technology, and the health IoT—has roused the public interest once again.

It has never before been possible to predict the risk of disease, how the human body will respond to a particular medication, or print treatments out of materials other than ink. The combination of these technologies will fuel an era of personalized care and healthcare innovation.

Predictive tools can be used to evaluate health risks and develop personalized healthcare plans to mitigate patient health risks, prevent disease, manage disease, and treat a disease precisely if it occurs. As healthcare becomes increasingly personalized for patients in both treatment and service delivery, it is critical that access is widened to ensure participation from all groups of society.

Diagnostic tests, such as blood tests, are typically used to identify appropriate treatments based on a patient’s physiological analysis. The selection of optimal therapies will be increasingly personalized to the patient genome. Healthcare providers will be able to diagnose current illnesses, predict future risks of diseases, and identify predicted responses to treatments and subtle traits within an instant. The use of genetic testing will transform personalized medicine. An era of instant, inexpensive genetic testing will empower patients to make informed choices about treatment, services, products, medications, and outcomes.

However the ethical implications of these decisions still remains to be seen.

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