5 big challenges to utilizing genomic data for precision medicine

Two Advisory Board research leaders discuss the current state of precision medicine – and what it will take for genomics to become part of routine care.
By Jessica Davis
05:18 PM
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Precision medicine holds the key to better health. And as the industry moves more toward value-based care, its evidence-based principles can help providers ease into the transition.

"It's a big step to go from trial-and-error medicine to evidence-based medicine," said Jim Adams, executive director of research at The Advisory Board. "Even for evidence-based care and precision medicine, genomics data is really important. But it's not one-to-one.

"You can get to precision medicine without genomics data," he added. "There's a lot of work that can be done without the genomic data to achieve precision medicine while we wait for the technology and industry to catch up."

One way would be to better leverage analytics on existing data pools, for instance. It's about finding ways to improve overall health, said Deirdre Saulet, senior consultant of research at The Advisory Board.

[Also: Genomics, patient generated health data to be top information sources in five years, survey finds]

While current research is largely focused on molecular changes, precision medicine is more than that, she said. Everyone needs to be involved to make it a reality. A lot of academic centers are leading the way, but many community providers and oncologists are moving into the field, as well.

But for precision medicine to become a reality, Saulet said, there are five challenges to overcome:

  • Building a case for precision medicine. Many insurers have rigorous guidelines for what will be covered. There's also a need to demonstrate how precision medicine supports all overall goals of the organization.
  • Physician support. Healthcare leaders must ensure physicians have the time, education and confidence to handle precision medicine, while reducing the existing care gaps to appropriately put precision medicine into practice - like addressing how few platforms support precision medicine.
  • Patient empowerment. Healthcare organizations are trying to figure out the role of patients when it comes to precision medicine. Further, regulations are murky around testing, making it complicated to determine how to empower patients to use this information to better their care. Some organizations have worked towards patient policies, but we need to be talking about it as a country to figure out the best steps going forward.
  • Clinical Trials. Clinical trials must be easier to accomplish, while genomics testing should be more affordable to create more specific treatments.
  • Data. Looking ahead, data is the most sizeable challenge when it comes to how the data is collected. Further, there are issues with integrating the data into EHR workflow. The healthcare industry needs to consider how to build upon this data to make better care decisions.

Right now, the biggest issue is that if one provider orders a genomics panel, it comes back as a PDF file, Saulet explained.

"No one is going to open that up and use the data in a routine visit," she said.

Twitter: @JessieFDavis
Email the writer: jessica.davis@himssmedia.com


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