The precision medicine approach to healthcare is thought to be a more personalized model that will improve individual and population health outcomes. That assertion now has more evidence in its favor after the publication of a study in the Journal of Medical Economics.
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The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Utah, took patients 65 years and older and separated them into two groups. The first group underwent pharmacogenetic testing, which helps determine how patients will respond to medication based on their specific genetics. The first group was also treated with the help of a medication management clinical decision support tool, while the second group was excluded from both of those extra measures.
Over a four-month period, the hospitalization rate for the first group — the one treated by precision medicine — was 9.8%, noticeably lower than the 16.1% rate of the control group. The gap between the percentages of each group that made emergency room visits was also in favor of the patients treated via precision medicine. Less than 4.5% of that group received emergency attention, compared to 15.4% of the other group.
The first group did stay in contact with their caregivers, but 71.7% did so through outpatient visits, nearly doubling the total of the other group. The tactics used were well-received by healthcare providers involved in the study, as 95% of them believed the test was helpful. The survey results included a calculation that an average of $218 was saved by each member of the precision medicine group as a result of their participation.
Precision medicine treatment was touted by many — including President Barack Obama — as a way to improve outcomes for cancer patients, though it’s too soon to accept that as a universal truth. For example, a recent Boston Globe article disputed that notion by cautioning that the fluid nature of cancerous tumors makes it hard to counteract their growth with drug regimens created through precision medicine. There are still big plans for precision medicine, as the National Institutes of Health’s Advisory Committee to the Director recommended the compilation of a research group of one million patients to further the study of precision medicine.