Making a business case for precision medicine

Precision medicine is already changing lives and improving outcomes through targeted therapies that help patients live longer and better lives, even after battling serious disease. The vision holds enormous promise for the future but healthcare still has huge ground to cover when it comes to making precision and personalized medicine an everyday part of primary care. 

Among those challenges is the reality that hospital executives must demonstrate a business reason for embarking on such initiatives and there are challenges to doing just that. 

We checked in with two speakers at the upcoming HIMSS Precision Medicine Summit to get a pulse on the opportunities and challenges of making a business case for personalized treatments. 

“Its an exciting field because this is where we could potentially use innovation and data to tell us things we didn’t know and potentially find cures,” said Sam Hanna, a professor and program director of the Masters of Science in Management of Healthcare Informatics and Analytics at The George Washington University’s School of Public Health. “We will be saving people’s lives with these innovations. That’s the driver. It’s a purposeful approach.”

Hanna’s vision of a precision medicine model embodies what he says are the essentials of health innovation and the key ingredients of collaboration: objectivity, optimization, purposefulness, efficiency and responsiveness. What’s more, Hanna said the intersection of analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning with genomics and informatics sets the stage for precision medicine. 

And while Precision Medicine may just be making its way to the forefront of mainstream medicine, Hanna said that it should not be treated as optional from the business and operations side. 

“With advances in technology, the level of this data and the creation of targeted therapies, we will be able to save more lives, which will improve overall the state of the business of healthcare,” Hanna said. “So if you’re a hospital or a healthcare organization, you want to be associated with that and you want to be able to deliver these targeted therapies. Patients will go somewhere else if you don’t offer these technologies — and that hits your bottom line.”  

Establishing the business case that saving lives also saves money is one tactic of sustainable precision medicine programs. And there are major challenges to be addressed. Interoperability is one hurdle. Another is patient engagement, activation and participation. 

HIMSS Senior Director of Federal & State Affairs Jeff Coughlin said privacy concerns also abound. Patients are worried about their genetic data and what happens to it, and how it can be used when it is contributed to the research cohort. 

What’s more, the ability to deliver precision medicine therapies across all economic groups and regardless of provider size is not there yet. 

“If you’re not a large academic institution that has a well-developed EHR with interoperability, data exchange capabilities that can easily move the data, that’s where the real crux of the emphasis is that we really need to put on things,” Coughlin said. “To make sure that patients can contribute their data, understand how they can contribute their data and what’s going to happen to it and how that will turn into research advances down the road.”

Hanna and Coughlin are each scheduled to speak at the upcoming HIMSS Precision Medicine Summit in Washington, DC on May 17-18, 2018. Register here. 

Twitter: @BethJSanborn
Email the writer: [email protected]

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