The Future of Personalized Medicine

Jun 06, 2016
Tagged with: The Future of Personalized Medicine


It is common knowledge that the health care industry has a rapidly changing landscape—and right now is an especially exciting time.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced a goal to move the health care system toward paying providers on the quality of care provided to their patients, rather than the quantity.

But what does this mean for you? For starters, personalized medicine is the pinnacle of this initiative, as doctors will likely provide customers with more personalized, high quality health care. Perhaps most importantly, under this new system, doctors will begin focusing on care that aims to prevent diseases rather than simply treat their symptoms.

Personalized medicine, sometimes called precision or genomic medicine, looks at each patient’s individual genetic blueprint to treat and prevent diseases. Personalized medicine also takes into account how a person’s genetics influence his or her metabolic rate, blood type and pressure, heart rate, disease risk and other health concerns.

The basic premise behind personalized medicine is that DNA variations and enzymes determine how different people respond to different treatments. This will also help lead to the reduction of MRI exams that are highly expensive and place a large financial strain on insurance companies and consumers alike.

This DNA component will allow doctors to know ahead of time if a patient may be likely to develop an adverse reaction to a prescription or treatment plan. Physicians will also be able to use DNA to make more informed diagnoses–even before a patient begins to show symptoms.

But what are the costs associated with this initiative? To provide a complete answer to this question it is helpful to understand how far we have come. In 1990, sequencing on the first human genome began. It took 13 years—and one billion dollars—to complete. Today, it costs about 1,000 dollars and takes a little more than a day.

Officials estimate that it would cost about $130 million to gather the genetic data of one million volunteers for the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI), which is the official name of the DNA-based health care project. The good news is President Obama announced plans to dedicate $215 million toward the PMI as part of the 2016 federal health care budget. In fact, some hospitals are already introducing precision medicine and genomics research. Presently, about 6000 patients have benefited from a test that examines their genetic makeup in order to tailor drug therapies.

Researchers suspect the positive impacts of implementing precision medicine will save countless lives. An excess of 17,000 strokes could be prevented each year if genetic tests were used to properly dose a blood thinner called Warfarin, while an impressive 34 percent reduction in chemotherapy for women with breast cancer could soon be a possibility–if the disease were genetically determined prior to tumor growth.

As personalized medicine grows, it will also help in the fight to reduce radiation doses from imaging modalities. It is estimated that out of the 72 million CT scans done in 2007, 29,000 may lead to new cancer cases in the future. As patients are given more customized exams and treatments, they will no longer need as many x-rays, cat scans, or radiation therapy, leading to the reduction of cancer as well.

It’s also important to keep in mind that precision medicine is a growing industry with increased monetary gains and job development.

Learn more about The Case for Personalized Medicine:

ADU Online RN to BSN Program

Author: Audrey Willis

  • bobl07

    Unique perspective in regards to DNA. It is not a shock that this is the future. However, it seems we still have a long way to go to unlock its mysteries.

  • Audrey Willis

    Excited to see where this leads healthcare in the future. Thanks for your thoughts Bob.