Precision Medicine Can Save More Lives and Waste Less Money

Andy Oram | EMR & HIPPA | August 10, 2016

Andy Oram

The previous section of this article looked at how little help we get from genetic testing.Admittedly, when treatments have been associated with genetic factors, testing has often been the difference between life and death. Sometimes doctors can hone in with laser accuracy on a treatment that works for someone because a genetic test shows that he or she will respond to that treatment. Hopefully, the number of treatments that we can associate with tests will grow over time. So genetics holds promise, but behavioral and environmental data are what we can use right now. These studies usually depend on straightforward combinations of data that are easy to get, either from the health care system (clinical or billing data) or from the patient (reports of medication adherence, painevel, etc.).

There are other issues that critics have brought up with the Precision Medicine initiative. For instance, its focus on cure instead of prevention weakens its value for long-term public health improvements. We must also remember the large chasm between knowing what’s good for you and doing it. People don’t change notoriously unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, even when told they are at increased risk. Some experts think people shouldn’t be told their DNA results...