Healthcare must apply precision medicine principles to preventive care

Stanford Medicine dean: Take advantage of availability of patient data

Nearly a year after President Barack Obama announced his Precision Medicine Initiative, healthcare would be even better served by applying the precision model to preventive care, argues a Forbes opinion piece.

Precision medicine so far has shown promising practical results since its announcement, Gregory R. Weidner, M.D., of Carolinas HealthCare System, told FierceHealthcare in December. 

In addition, recent advances, such as the new immunotherapy treatment that led to former president Jimmy Carter's cancer going into remission, are encouraging, Stanford Medicine Dean Lloyd Minor, M.D., writes at Forbes. But he adds that the models allowing for such developments could also be used to prevent people from becoming sick in the first place.

Overhauling the model to focus more on prevention, Minor writes, will require the marriage of two models: "high tech" and "high touch."

Historically, health advancements have been primarily reactive, with clinicians applying a method that works for one patient on others to determine if it is broadly applicable. However, now that health data is more widely available, says Minor, healthcare leaders must remember the value of not just numbers data, but personal data obtained through talking to and listening to patients. 

That's why medical schools increasingly team up with experts in engineering and computer science to adapt their major advances to the healthcare field, Minor adds.

For example, Stanford recently launched Presence, a center aimed at encouraging research and collaboration between Stanford's seven schools through hands-on sessions. "We really are on the brink of an amazing transformation in how we approach medicine," Minor writes. "But we can only go as far as our vision allows us to."

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