Home > Healthcare > Four Ways Personalized Medicine will Change Doctor-Patient Relationship

Four Ways Personalized Medicine will Change Doctor-Patient Relationship

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Personalized Medicine Gains Traction

Since completion of the Human Genome Project  in 2003, the promise of personalized medicine (PM) caused many to consider its effect on bio-science, pharma and healthcare delivery.  Physicians contemplate a future in which patients enter their office equipped with symptoms and a list of the genetic variants they posses and questions about what they mean.

The problem hasn’t materialized because  the cost of discovering and developing drugs customized to the needs of a sub-genetic group have been prohibitive. Today however,  IT frameworks like Hadoop deploy massively powerful, inexpensive processing power. Now the huge genomic database becomes a more accessible resource to develop medications that are effective for targeted patient populations.

These new drugs offer improved cost-effectiveness over blockbuster drugs  for conditions like high cholesterol or hypertension.  Physicians will spend less time and money in trial and error to find which drugs work for which patients.

Disruption in Healthcare

In my last post, I raised the question, “Will Personalized Medicine have a disruptive influence on medical practice?” Those familiar with Christensen’s theory of disruptive innovation understand that market leaders focus resources on product development for advanced users who don’t care about cost. Often products contain features and benefits that don’t matter to most users. This leaves room for competitors to develop new technologies and business models to meet the needs of average consumers and “disrupt” the market leader’s business from the bottom up.

Healthcare is not like other businesses. The role of payers and policymakers as well as the interests of public health intervene and create barriers to natural market forces.  These factors slow the rate of disruption. Yet there will be fundamental change in the way physicians and patients interact as PM gains traction.

Four ways PM will disrupt healthcare delivery

#1 Predictive, not reactive:

  • Rather than waiting to treat symptoms of a disease that occur, physicians can predict which diseases a patient is susceptible to.
  • The physician develops a personalized health plan to prevent or detect these diseases early.
  • Patients will become a true partner in the delivery of healthcare, monitoring their progress and reporting results to their caregivers.
  • Home testing may replace testing in the doctor’s office.
  • Fewer office visits, less face time with the PCP is less expensive, but is it better medicine?

#2 More information on more treatment options:

  • Physicians  prepare to answer patients’ questions about new genetic tests and the treatments for their sub-group.
  • Continuous access to up to date, peer-reviewed medical information will increase dramatically.
  • As more options for care become available, will the patient’s trust in the sources of clinical information and outcomes begin to erode?

#3 New ethical and moral obligations: 

  • What is the physician’s role with patients on the moral and ethical questions surrounding access to genetic tests?
  • If one family member wants genetic testing and another doesn’t and a serious disease potential becomes known, what is the physician’s obligation to inform?

#4 Physician’s role in decision to test:

  • Should patients have their own testing done without supervision of a physician?
  • Should tests be offered for genetic disorders for which no treatment is available?
  • Who pays for development of testing and treatment for small sub-groups of patients?

What do you think? Will PM disrupt or enhance healthcare delivery?

  1. October 7, 2014 at 11:59 pm

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  3. April 20, 2012 at 11:53 am

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  4. Wade Goolishian, MD
    April 9, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    When asked by engineers, I explain my anesthesiologist’s role as the interface between extremely dangerous technology and organic decision making. I believe our gains in patient safety have resulted from improved decision making more than newer anesthetic agents. The goal has always been to individualize the treatment to the patient but I fear economic pressures may influence this in another direction. Computer generated algorithms may be a good thing if they guide physicians to best practices. I say “may” because best practices are often temporal and ‘cupping and bleeding’ as well as ‘brandy down the throat’ were also best practices once. My fear is that if these best practices are dominated solely by cost considerations, we will individualize the care plan using a cost saving algorithm and fit the patient to that rather than the other way around. I know there must unfortunately be a balance between what we can do and the cost, but I prefer organic decision making to weigh the difference.

  5. April 9, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    Interesting medical and ethical issues, which will be interesting to monitor in times to come.

    • February 1, 2013 at 4:13 pm

      Dems are willing to take anyihtng at all if it is called health reform’ without reading it for themselves. Republicans and independents aren’t.The government has no Constituitonal power to force 300 million people to enrich insurance companies and big Pharma by being required to purchase sucky policies they would never have chosen for themselves. And medicare being cut $500 billion just as those who paid in all their lives get up to the point of needing the expensive care shows precisely why government should not be trusted with our health care.The question is, why on earth do Dems who know what is in the bill want it to be passed?And most PEOPLE I know don’t care about government run option’ in the scheme of things. Once government has designed the sucky policy and limited our choices to what we can get, and shielded the committee deciding what is cost effective’ enough to be given out as health care, and drastically raised the premiums, it is little matter who administers the sucky policy.Who protects us from our government? At least now we can sue insurers.

  6. April 6, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    Fascinating internet web site. I saved to bookmarks . 999856

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  5. April 6, 2012 at 8:57 pm

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