Successfully sequencing the human genome for the first time took scientists 13 years in total. Just ten years later, sequencing a genome could be completed in only a few hours.
Full-genome sequencing is just one example of how medical technology is rapidly advancing in the 21st century. With these new innovations comes new opportunities for more personalized, preventive, and data-driven care via precision medicine. However, the question that remains is, can traditional healthcare systems keep up?
This article will explore what precision medicine is, why the U.S. healthcare system is slow to adopt new innovations needed for such care, and how you can personally accelerate your access to advanced and potentially life-saving medical technology.
What Is Precision Medicine
According to the National Institutes of Health, precision medicine is “an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle for each person.” Rather than rely on generic one-size-fits-all approaches to care, precision medicine allows doctors to tailor their treatment to a patient’s unique health profile.
The NCBI explains that “the goal of precision medicine is to target the right treatments to the right patients at the right time.” In a country where chronic disease is the leading cause of death each year, precision medicine can help doctors not only intervene earlier, but intervene with the best approaches.
The CDC explains it this way: “Your genes, behaviors (such as exercise and eating habits), and environment are all factors that affect your health. The goal of precision health is to protect your health by measuring these factors and acting on them. Interventions can be tailored to you, rather than using the same approach for everyone.”
However, in order for this concept of precision medicine to be actualized in practice, doctors need access to genetic, behavioral, and lifestyle data for their patients. And while there are plenty of advanced medical technologies emerging each year that can help facilitate this data collection and aggregation, the traditional health system is slow to adopt them.
Limitations to Precision Medicine in Traditional Healthcare Systems
The FDA said it best: “Precision care will only be as good as the tests that guide diagnosis and treatment.” Fortunately, there has been incredible progress in the last few years in the development of advanced medical and screening technologies.
For example, pharmacogenomic analysis can now give patients insight into what medications work for their unique bodies and which ones don’t. And advanced early-detection cancer blood tests can screen for 50 kinds of cancer at once at their early stages of development.
However, the incorporation of these advanced tests into clinical care settings has lagged behind the actual development of scientific technologies and discoveries. There are a few reasons for this.
First, adopting technologies necessary for precision care into traditional clinical healthcare settings requires a large collaboration effort. According to the NCBI, “Many different sectors and activities have to coalesce…including the appropriate education, data systems, coverage and reimbursement, health system processes, and health policies.”
In an article on why innovation in healthcare is so hard, the Harvard Business Review reported something similar: “The health care sector has many stakeholders, each with an agenda. Often, these players have substantial resources and the power to influence public policy and opinion by attacking or helping the innovator.” With so many stakeholders at play, it becomes difficult to integrate new technologies into traditional care settings that have the potential to impact the broader nature of healthcare in the U.S.
Dr. Robert Pearl, one of Modern Healthcare’s 50 most influential physician leaders, wrote that one of the things preventing the adoption of technology into healthcare is money: “Doctors and hospitals will be slow to embrace any technology that lowers costs or reduce patient visits. Why? Because today’s payment model financially rewards doctors and hospitals for the volume and cost of services they provide – not the quality of outcomes they achieve. Until our payment model moves from fee-for-service to “pay-for-value,” some of the most effective technological solutions will be hard to sell.”
Finally, even if your physician did want to provide you with these effective and advanced medical technologies, they might not have the ability to do so. While physicians historically were the ones deciding on medical technology purchases, that is no longer the reality for most. According to Deloitte, “As of 2012, roughly 45 percent of all physicians were either directly employed by or under contract with a hospital—a 32 percent increase since 2000…As employees of health care systems, physicians are now just one part of a broader decision-making apparatus for purchasing choices.”
With so many players and stakeholders with different agendas, incorporating advanced medical technologies into the U.S.’s traditional healthcare system will be slow and limited. However, if the idea of precision medicine and data-driven care is something that appeals to you, there are ways to accelerate your access to it–and one of the best ways to do so is through EDISON BIO.
Advanced Medical Technologies at EDISON BIO
Compared to other developed countries, the U.S. has the highest chronic disease burden. In response to the broken and reactive medical system, EDISON BIO is on a mission to expand human health potential through personalized, preventive, and data-driven care.
EDISON BIO offers the most advanced, comprehensive, and convenient health screening that uncovers hidden disease and health challenges early. With everything from sleep analysis to epigenetic testing, EDISON BIO Members gain deep insight into the inner workings of their minds and bodies so that they can optimize their health.
Through convenient in-home or in-office testing, EDISON BIO provides Members with advanced screening technologies that help them gain a comprehensive and personalized picture into their wellness. Rather than wonder whether your doctor is actually prioritizing your longevity and performance, you can invest in innovative care that is paving the way for the future of medicine.
About EDISON BIO
Most of us worry about our health. EDISON BIO advanced, comprehensive, and convenient health screening uncovers hidden disease and health challenges early. You’ll be confident about your health and primed to perform at your highest potential.