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President’s precision medicine initiative looking for fresh tech ideas

While opinions differ, to say the least, on President Obama’s healthcare policy, his precision medicine initiative (PMI) has drawn praise.

But up to now there have not yet been many concrete results to come out of the initiative other than private undertakings around genomics and precision medicine by companies such as NantHealth, IBM Watson Health and individual researchers whom the White House has celebrated as “champions of change.”

Now the president is soliciting new ideas for moving the initiative ahead.

“We’re looking to a broad range of stakeholders to learn about new or expanded initiatives and programs aimed at enabling new ways to improve health and treat disease — and ways to use this information to inform our precision medicine efforts going forward,” according to a recent post on the initiative’s blog.

The post was authored by D.J. Patil, deputy chief technology officer for data policy and chief data scientist in the president’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Stephanie Devanie, project manager for the PMI.

Among the ideas the initiative is looking for are:

  • New approaches for deploying precision medicine into patient care to improve health.
  • New ways to engage patients, participants, and partners in research, and get the word out about PMI, including through the use of novel technologies.
  • Finding innovative ways of including historically excluded and underserved populations in research.
  • Developing robust APIs in EHR systems that can support patients accessing their clinical data and donating it for research.
  • Creating ways to share information across organizations with privacy and security protections.
  • Technology to support the storage and analysis of large amounts of data, with strong security safeguards.
  • New analytics systems to help combine diverse data sets with privacy and security protections to answer precision medicine questions.
  • New approaches to handling security issues in building large research data sets.
  • Steps to increase the number of skilled data scientists and technologists working in healthcare.
  • Developing “grand challenges,” competitions, and prizes to foster innovation.

The deadline for sharing such new ideas and activities is Sept. 21. Use this form.

“With support from patients, research participants, researchers, providers, and private sector innovators, we can make precision medicine a reality,” the blog post said.