Precision Medicine is a major talking point at HIMSS17. You can’t go more than a few feet without seeing it on a placard, hearing it mentioned, or being drawn into a conversation about how it will revolutionize care. Dr. Brian Druker, MD, the touted “Father of Precision Medicine” (and inventor of the targeted therapy, Gleevec) presented an interesting phenomenon that is surfacing as precision medicine broadens its reach into healthcare in his presentation, “A Lewis & Clark Exploration of Precision Medicine.”
It’s a fitting metaphor—Lewis and Clark. Two explorers entering strange new lands, not entirely clear what they will find, or how what they find might be utilized. That’s entirely true of precision medicine.
What starts as an entirely personal care practice—a patient “fails” chemo, his or her DNA is sequenced, and abnormalities point doctors to the best medicine to target their particular cancer tumor—precision medicine can have larger, population effects. According to Dr. Druker, these patients often feel left on a precipice; what happens when they no longer respond to the medicine? Are they really the only person with this problem? Are they truly the N of 1?
According to Dr. Druker, this alienation will continue if we don’t have a better way to exchange information between systems. If clinicians had access to a clearing house of genomic testing, and the outcomes patients have received from targeted therapies, then the effects of one precision medicine success could be applied to many others without additional costs.
At Intermountain, our approach to precision medicine is a bench-to-bedside approach. That means that after sequencing, patients are followed through their therapies by clinicians and researchers. From sequencing samples in our BioRepository to categoric outcomes tracking, we’re working toward the future that Dr. Druker envisions for helping other patients in the future.