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Precision medicine driven by patient data, molecular information, HIMSS16 speaker says

Massachusetts General doctor Guarav Singal will explain the shift underway in healthcare between data and actual evidence.
By Jessica Davis
03:48 PM
Massachusetts General Hospital

As the industry moves toward data-driven medicine clinicians are going to need more decision support tools than in the past.

"Medicine has always strived to be data driven," said Gaurav Singal, MD, a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and director of the Innovations Unit of Foundation Medicine. “But now there's a shift happening between what we call data and what we call evidence.”

Although healthcare won't get to a point that a patient is 100 percent unique, Singal said, historic information is crucial to ensuring providers aren't flying blind.

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"I don’t think randomized control trials are going to be less effective," he said. "But in an evidence-based world, it won't be the whole picture. Random isn't enough … patients are just too precisely defined and unique."

Singal leads technology and data-centric product development at Foundation Medicine. He helped launch its Interactive Cancer Explorer, otherwise known as ICE, a physician-facing clinical decision support and patient management platform that uses data collection and aggregation to aid physicians with clinical decision-making.

He said it's these types of Web-based technologies and digital innovations that can improve therapeutic decision making at the point-of-care.

In his talk titled, “Precision Medicine in the Information Age,” 
Singal will discuss how physicians and insurers are embracing actionable molecular information to positively impact care delivery.

Singal's work at Foundation Medicine is focused on molecular oncology, using genomic information to produce and analyze tumors or genomes where the cancer has mutated. These molecular characteristics of tumors can actually guide cancer treatments.

His work in both medicinal and engineering fields creates a unique duality in his perspective, he said. He's always looking for ways to combine health and technology with data-centric solutions that are clinically relevant to impact both patients and providers.

Singal’s team designs and builds tools for physicians to determine the best course of action for their patient. They built ICE with this goal in mind, to connect with doctors from a scientific standpoint to see what works and what doesn't.

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It's no longer about generic treatments for these patients but, instead, about treating patients based on their molecular data to offer more precise care.

"Providers have been interested in clinical decision support for a long time," Singal said. "I think there's a cultural shift happening, with the data that drives these decisions. And more doctors are seeing this shift."

Singal’s session, “Precision Medicine in the Information Age,” is scheduled for March 2 from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. in the Sands Expo Convention Center Sands Showroom.

Twitter: @JessiefDavis


This story is part of our ongoing coverage of the HIMSS16 conference. Follow our live blog for real-time updates, and visit Destination HIMSS16 for a full rundown of our reporting from the show. For a selection of some of the best social media posts of the show, visit our Trending at #HIMSS16 hub.