How Personalization is Changing Health Care

by Amy Barczy

| 3 min read

Surgeon reviewing x-rays and monitors
In consumer culture, personalization rules. It’s likely your email inbox is full of messages from stores you’ve shopped at – maybe even with your name on it. Grocery stores send coupons directly to your door based on your prior shopping history. You can order everything from coffee mugs to calendars with a picture of your dog’s face on it. Take a survey, and you can order shampoo and conditioner that will fix your hair’s specific problems. There are many ways personalization can improve the consumer experience. Which is why the applications of personalization are especially important in health care. When it comes to your health, a bad experience can have serious impacts. Health care is increasingly shifting from a one-size-fits-all, trial-and-error model to treatments and therapies designed for the individual. In the field, it’s often referred to as precision medicine: medical care and treatment guided by a patient’s genomic sequence. Based on an individual’s DNA, diseases can be predicted or prevented – and detected earlier, when taken into consideration with family history. The result: improved experiences for patients, improved patient outcomes, fewer dollars spent and fewer trips to the emergency room or stays at the hospital.

Applications in treatment

One area of medicine that can benefit from precision medicine is in oncology, or cancer treatment. In a traditional approach, cancer is treated with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation based on where the cancer is in the patient’s body. By applying precision medicine practices, more data is taken into consideration before deciding a course of treatment. Cancer treatments can be targeted to the specific genes that cause the cancer in the body by taking population science, clinical discovery and integrated data networks into consideration. 

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the ways health care systems are using technology to make care and treatments more personalized to the individual patient. AI is computer-generated intelligence based on knowledge and information provided as inputs by humans to imitate the way humans think and act. Thanks to digital processes and care operations, hospitals and providers are positioned to leverage large networks of data using powerful analytics. AI can assist in analyzing data set to provide predictive insights about patients – like their risk of developing a blood clot, for example, based on their heart rate and blood pressure, in addition to other factors. Knowing these risks sooner would help providers better recommend preventive steps and more effective treatment options to improve patient outcomes.

Pharmacogenomics

One type of precision medicine is pharmacogenomics, in which specific parts of a patient’s genomic sequence are analyzed to predict how a patient would react to certain medications. This type of genetic testing can improve patient outcomes and help prevent adverse drug reactions, which are a leading cause of death according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Pharmacogenomics can also reduce costs for patients by eliminating what can be a costly process to test out different medications until the right one is found. Instead, pharmacogenomics can help providers recommend the right medication for each individual patient, when taken into consideration with lifestyle and environmental factors. More from MIBluesPerspectives.com:
Photo credit: Getty Images  

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