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Bringing a Personal Touch to Treatment Decisions

doctoronphoneThe field of personalized medicine, or pharmacogenomics, has been gaining momentum as physicians struggle to understand the underlying causes of ill health. Personalized medicine takes a holistic view of disease. Instead of being caused by a single factor, disease is seen as an evolving process that is influenced by genetics, lifestyle, and environment. Physicians look at the patient’s life at different points in time to determine causality, which in turn can guide treatment decisions. According to Michael Liebman, CEO of Strategic Medicine, the electronic medical record is a critical component of a personalized medical program that is focused on prevention as well as medical treatment. Liebman believes that EMRs in their current state are not maximizing their potential. “The EMR in general is not comprehensive enough in the information that it collects to enable that level of interpretation to actually be made.  There’s a lot of effort going into the tech,” says Liebman, “but there’s not as much of an effort going on to determine what should be corrected and will be critical for impacting health.” Liebman gives the example of a patient who smokes. Doctors typically inquire about the patient’s smoking habits at that particular point in time. However, a patient’s smoking habits fluctuate throughout his lifetime, as do his risk levels. The same is true for other health factors such as weight, alcohol consumption, and medical conditions. In the practice of personalized medicine, an EMR needs to be truly comprehensive to be effective.  Strategic Medicine (SMI) of Kennett Square, Penn., seeks to improve clinical outcomes through its portfolio of patient and disease stratification products. The company’s products can interact directly with EMRs. SMI is partnered with the Mayo Clinic on an adaptive knowledge platform that analyzes physicians’ treatment decisions compared to clinical guidelines. The project aims to help physicians make more informed choices and identify unmet clinical needs. Another personalized medicine company, U.K.-based Curidium, has focused on nervous system disorders. The company is working to identify patient subgroups, the different mechanisms behind their diseases, and opportunities for targeted therapeutics. Tethys Bioscience markets a quantitative diagnostic test to assess a patient’s risk of developing diabetes within five years. The test examines several proteins and other biomarkers that are thought to be involved in the development of diabetes. Physicians can use the information to develop a personalized diabetes prevention program. 20/20 Gene Systems develops biomarker-based diagnostic tests for the detection of disease and the selection of personalized therapies. In September, the Rockville, Md.-based company was awarded a grant by the National Cancer Institute to create new tests for selecting breast cancer therapies. Having a detailed overview of the patient’s life and health is key for physicians and healthcare providers to understand the evolving factors behind any disease. Thus, providers would require patient information that is both organized and easily accessible in one location. An intelligence system that could deliver healthcare-related information such as treatment options and medical conditions would be ideal. Feel free to share any software tools you know of that enable providers to better share healthcare information and optimize the quality of healthcare delivery.

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