If you’ve heard of precision medicine before, but you’re not exactly sure what it is, you’re in the right place. Here, we’re going to describe the basics of precision medicine, how it differs from traditional medicine, and why it’s becoming so popular so quickly.
Let’s begin by making a statement that might seem obvious—the connected nature of the world today makes personalisation much, much easier. Look around; it’s easier than ever to get the food you want, stream the shows that you want, find the clothes that you want, and get all of it when you want, too. Given this nature of the modern world, why do we still approach medicine as though the same approach will be a good fit for every patient?
Precision Medicine: ‘Personalised Medicine’
Precision medicine is also commonly called ‘personalised medicine’ because it tackles the very problem of one-size-fits-all. In basic terms, it’s an approach to healthcare which aims to factor in much more of each individual than is typical. This includes genetic information, environmental factors, and lifestyle habits.
Genetics is often the element of this equation which is focused on the most, and for good reason; examining each patients genome allows for much more accurate prediction and subsequent prevention of potential health problems.
That said, it’s important to note how valuable environmental data is, especially when used in tandem with other data. For example, knowing a patient carrying a genetic predisposition for skin cancer is useful, but the importance of this information is increased significantly in an environment like New Zealand, given our proximity to the ozone hole.
Using this data for prediction and prevention is a big part of what makes precision medicine unique, but there are other features which characterise it too. Read on to find out more.
Many major diseases are hereditary, including heart disease, asthma, diabetes, and some cancers. These are among the most common health issues we face, so investigating your family history and genetics can make clear which diseases you’re at risk of, and how to best avoid them.
Genome sequencing can also be instrumental in tackling other health problems, such as bacterial infections. Testing can help isolate what a specific bacterium is, which has a huge impact on what the best approach to managing an illness is.
Precision healthcare is also characterised by the use of smart devices. Because healthcare improves with more focused data, clinics like Edison use smart devices to help collect the most accurate and relevant data possible. For example, we use the Oura ring to track sleep cycles and activity. After all, the technology exists, and if the medical profession at large isn’t going to leverage it for better outcomes, we will.
What does precision medicine hope to achieve?
There are three key goals to this field of healthcare: better diagnoses, personalised care, and minimised discomfort.
Knowing what you’re dealing with is the most important part of fighting it. Precision healthcare seeks to make the diagnostic process more accurate, so patients aren’t left feeling like they’re at a dead end if they don’t understand their own health.
Better accuracy also improves consistency when it comes to better health outcomes. By reducing variations with assisted-data analysis, diagnoses don’t just become more accurate to each individual patient, they become more accurate more often.
New technology has created more options for personalised treatment. For example, genome sequencing can be used alongside a procedure like a liquid biopsy of a tumour, in order to create a better picture for medical professionals of what they’re dealing with. Better testing of samples leads to better treatment options for each patient.
Better data helps reduce the risks and costs of invasive surgeries. In essence, getting it right the first time dramatically reduces both time and economic costs, and allow the patient to recover faster.
Precision Medicine: The Future of Healthcare
Specialty clinics have been offering this kind of healthcare since before the vernacular existed to describe it, but it’s only now that the technology has been so advanced. The introduction of new smart devices has begun revolutionising medicine as we know it. Talk to Edison Clinic about our health plans today, and let us help you step into a healthier future.