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Providers see upside of precision medicine, aren't prepared to use it in patient care process

Don’t expect the practice of precision medicine to enter mainstream healthcare in the next five years, at least in non-academic medical settings.

Nearly 60% of respondents to a Health Catalyst survey said precision medicine will not be a major part of their patient care processes between now and 2020. That number increased when singling out non-academic medical facilities, 71% of which said they don’t have plans to include the genomics aspect of precision medicine into their EHR systems.

David Crockett, senior director of research and predictive analytics for Health Catalyst, gave a reason why he believes many non-academic facilities aren’t eager to use precision medicine techniques. “The disconnect between the recognition that genomics holds great promise and yet the lack of preparation for precision medicine may reflect the fact that technology adoption is often driven by research efforts at major academic medical centers, with others following in their footsteps,” Crockett said in the Health Catalyst release.

Though the majority of survey respondents aren’t rushing to begin precision medicine treatment, many of them believe there is some value in studying patients’ genetic variations. Half of them said DNA sequencing — which produces genomics data — could have a positive effect on their organizations’ patient care processes and outcomes.

While many healthcare providers are reluctant to embrace precision medicine A speaker at last year’s Connected Health Symposium in Boston supported the thought that precision medicine could improve treatment for individual patients. Before that happens, Thomas Goetz, co-founder of Iodine Inc., said physicians need to connect with the people they’re treating on a personal level. Goetz hypothesized that precision medicine could be more powerful if medical practitioners and patients were more communicative with each other.

The results of a study performed by University of Utah researchers bolstered the idea that precision medicine can enhance patients’ long-term health. The researchers split patients into two groups, one that received pharmacogenetic testing to measure how well they might respond to medication based on their individual genetics and another group that didn’t undergo that testing. In a subsequent four-month period, the precision medicine group had a hospitalization rate of 9.8%, compared to 16.1% of the control group.

Precision medicine has been the subject of much discussion and action in healthcare. President Barack Obama announced a $215 million investment in precision medicine in early 2015. Those funds went to the National Cancer Institute for analyzing cancer genomics and to The National Institutes of Health, which plans to use the money to create and track the health of a group of one million Americans. Giving financial support to those research institutes — rather than individual healthcare organizations — was probably the right move as most providers aren’t ready to incorporate genomics data into their patient care processes.