Benefits of Personalized Healthcare
Although all medical services purport to be personalized, the reality is that most of the care that you receive is virtually identical to most other patients if they were in the same circumstances. That is because medical therapies are based on the best outcomes for the most patients which means that treatment is standardized across a patient population and not tailored to your needs.
That could be changing soon, however. The advent of powerful genetic analytics could enable physicians to customize treatments with unprecedented granularity. Instead of relying on inaccurate medical evaluations and family histories, your clinician can identify physiological anomalies specific to you. This kind of medicine is still early in its development but promises to reshape the entire field of medicine soon.
Why Personalized Healthcare Is So Revolutionary
If you go to see a physician because you have a fever and cough, she is likely to diagnose it as the cold or flu. That is because your doctor is using the most likely cause as the initial diagnosis. Only if the testing suggests that the cause is something less common will your doctor re-evaluate your case.
Doctors are trained to rely on the law of averages because it is normally the best way to do the most good for the most people. Unfortunately, in many cases, people with unusual health conditions or physiologies get overlooked or, even worse, mistreated.
Personalized healthcare, however, can customize the therapy to the exact needs of the patient. This means that a physician does not have to rely on the most common reactions among an extremely broad patient population to a drug as a barometer; instead, she can examine the reactions of patients with similar genetic profiles. It is even possible that once our genetic mapping becomes precise enough that clinicians can accurately predict how any patient will respond to a given drug.
The Benefits of Personalized Healthcare for Patients
Of course, any advance like personalized healthcare should confer benefits on the patient, but it is truly staggering how greatly patients can benefit from personalized healthcare.
- Emphasize prevention instead of reaction—because personalized healthcare leverages predictive power based on precise genetic and physiological analysis, physicians can foresee health conditions long before they arise. Of course, many conditions like injuries or infectious diseases can’t be predicted, but many conditions with genetic, metabolic, or behavioral components may be preventable.
- Lower costs—because your healthcare provider can determine which therapies are most likely to work for you, there is no need for a trial-and-error approach that can allow the condition to progress and add to costs.
- Fewer health risks—with keener and more accurate insights into a patient’s physiology, clinicians can more easily identify and avoid drugs and therapies that could present unnecessary or more serious health risks. Even if a medication presents some risk, it may be much easier and faster to fine-tune the dosage to optimize the benefits with personalized medicine. Once again, many treatments that have higher risk profiles can be avoided during the trial-and-error phase if they offer minimal benefits.
- Greater patient agency—one of the pillars of personalized healthcare is an abundance of data, much of it directly accessible by the patient. Although this presents some risks like privacy issues, accessible data, and informational overload, hopefully, in general, it will produce more informed patients who take greater control of their healthcare decisions. It should also provide more granularity in decision making as well since more patient data will become available 24/7; patients can take a more active role in safeguarding their health even when outside of a clinical setting.
- Improved synchronization—not only will patients have more data, but other health care professionals outside of the core care team should as well. This means that pharmacists, mental health professionals and physical therapists will have more access to treatment plans and goals. This can greatly benefit the patient by limiting adverse drug interactions, emphasize optimal therapies and eliminate therapeutic redundancies.
In addition to the profound benefits that most patients should experience, personalized healthcare should also produce some significant benefits to healthcare providers.
- Automation—one of the foundations of personalized healthcare will, of course, be artificial intelligence which is already emerging as a powerful tool for clinicians, researchers, and administrators. AI is expected to take a larger role in the clinic, but its greatest benefit for patients may lie in its ability to respond to and manage patients outside the doctor’s office. More capable Ais can monitor patients to ensure that they take medications as scheduled, go to therapy sessions and are responding appropriately to treatments. This would help alleviate the burden on nurses and other assistants, allowing them to use resources more appropriately on critical cases which ensures better outcomes at lower costs.
- Greater patient engagement—one of the most pressing issues in healthcare is greater participation by patients. Instead of ignoring advice or actively disagreeing with the care provider, patients in a personalized healthcare setting have a managerial role to play which encourages them to support the healthcare choices that are made. A more active role invites patients to invest in their own healthcare journey. This increased level of engagement boosts outcomes which, in turn, reduces long-term treatment costs for patients and providers.
- Fewer human errors—one of the costliest and most reputation-damaging aspects of patient care is human error. Simple mistakes can be horrific for patients and so damaging to healthcare providers that it can take months or years to recover. Personalized healthcare will help eliminate human error by delivering targeted therapies that are uniquely tailored to the patient’s needs.
It is an exciting time in the field of medicine as personalized healthcare begins to emerge as a viable platform. The entire field of medicine may experience wild and unforeseeable changes as genetic, AI and management technologies mature and become widely adopted. Healthcare professionals are likely to experience a new renaissance in medicine in which patient wellbeing reaches new heights.
Article written by: Dr. Robert Moghim – CEO/Founder Colorado Pain Care
M.D. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the personal views of Robert Moghim, M.D. and do not necessarily represent and are not intended to represent the views of the company or its employees. The information contained in this article does not constitute medical advice, nor does reading or accessing this information create a patient-provider relationship. Comments that you post will be shared with all visitors to this page. The comment feature is not governed by HIPAA, and you should not post any of your private health information.