Precision Medicine– The New Frontier of Healthcare

Nishi Saksena Uncategorized

Bioinformatics and Biopharmaceuticals were buzz words a decade ago. The technology that evolved through these streams gave rise to a new frontier in healthcare solutions – personalized medicine. Today the term is nothing less than a miracle for cancer patients and those suffering from non-curable diseases.

Precision medicine or theranostics as it is officially known, is a model to derive targeted healthcare solutions through technology and genetic testing. The interventions are tailored to patients based on their genetic predisposition. The concept has already seen success in the treatment of cystic fibrosis, melanomas, and in the reduction of breast cancer recurrences.

Evolution of personalized nanomedicine

Today medical practitioners have the ability to not just prescribe a medicine but to also profile the drug components and dosage to the specific genetic biomarkers of the individual patient. This makes the medicine not only precisely targeted for the patient but also highly effective. Traditionally, the patient’s response to a generic drug was not controlled and the patient’s body could react in innumerable ways to a known drug for a disease. This was the reason behind some cancer patients surviving, while others could not, in-spite of getting the same treatment. Today, personalized nanomedicine makes it possible to predict specific reactions to the drug in relation to the genomics of the patient, thereby enabling custom medicine, tailored to the patient’s exact needs. The evolution of precision medicine changed the way the healthcare industry operated. From a one-size-fits-all approach towards a truly individualistic approach.

Role of Medtech in Precision Medicine

The rise of Machine Learning has now equipped the tech industry to champion the cause of precision medicine. The mapped genomics of a patient can now be leveraged with advanced machine learning techniques to predict best outcomes. Medical practitioners today, are relying on machine learning technologies to crunch vast amount of clinical and patient generated data into insights that can help deliver best patient care. Machine learning not only helps in analyzing the vast amount of complex genomic data but can also to derive probabilities and permutations and make it accessible.

Healthcare on mobile, has also made patient data sharing seamless across various devices and interfaces. Medical practitioners can now seamlessly correlate data sets collected from different touch points such as mobile devices or in-person visits. They can also look at the patient’s history, outcomes, prescriptions without having to surf through pages of data on a paper file. This has drastically increased the time spent by doctors in monitoring patients instead of losing time in collecting and recording data.

What’s next

While in theory, precision medicine sounds like a wonder drug for healthcare solutions, there are significant challenges that still need to be overcome. Changing cost and reimbursement structures, changing legal regulations and dynamics, and ensuring care for all are some of the pressures faced by the healthcare industry. However, the emerging new trends in med-tech can help overcome some of these barriers. Integrating holistic data sets with EHRs – A scenario where a patient’s socio-economic, behavioral and environmental data is included with the patient’s history to create a more comprehensive ecosystem for patient care. Harnessing Big Data analytics for preventive care – deriving timely diagnostics and preventive care treatments by harnessing external data such as lifestyle habits, activity levels, nutrition etc.

Traditional medicine is benefiting with the use of technology. Having said that, technology is paving the way for finding interdisciplinary pathways that can deliver a precise cure. A non-linear approach is spearheaded by the development of precision medicine to make patients’ lives better.

Register to Frontiers in Exponential Technology track on May 11th, 11:30 am to 12:00 pm and be part of the most engaging panel discussion on “Medicine & Me” – The future of personalized medicine with Linda Avey, Co-founder of 23andMe, Jill Hagenkord, MD, Former CMO 23andMe and Ruby Gadelrab , Former VP Marketing, 23andMe.

Writer, Varsha Hegde