Hospitals rank population health, value-based care, patient experience as top strategic drivers of precision medicine

New research from Healthcare IT News and HIMSS Analytics determined that precision medicine programs are rolling, albeit slowly, while early focus areas are on chronic diseases, cancer, neurology and pediatrics. 
By Tom Sullivan
08:18 AM

Despite precision medicine being all the rage in certain healthcare circles, most notably perhaps the White House, only 13 percent of  organizations actually have a plan in place today.

That’s according to the Healthcare IT News and HIMSS Analytics Quick HIT Study: Precision Medicine, a concentrated perspective survey conducted over three days last week that comprised 44 responses targeted at laboratory directors, clinical and biomedical engineers, and CMOs. 

Among those first-mover hospitals already embarking on precision medicine plans, though, the strategic drivers are population health management initiatives, alternative payment models, and the ability to deliver higher levels of advanced care to their patient base. 

What is the area of focus for your precision medicine program?

“Precision Medicine is limited in use cases,” said Brendan FitzGerald, HIMSS Analytics Research Director for Advisory Solutions.

Indeed, the survey found that hosptials' top focus areas include cancer, cardiology, neurology, pediatrics, prenatal screening and epidemiology.

The strategic business drivers and initial focus areas are not surprising given the nature of even early precision medicine visions.

“Being able to attack broader chronic diseases with what we know about the human genome and perform these types of clinical tests makes complete sense,” FitzGerald added. “Once that can be conducted on a broader scale, it seems natural that John Q Physician, MD will have access to precision medicine data, be able to request it and perform upon that information.”

But that won’t likely happen overnight. Of the 86 percent of responding that they do not already have precision medicine programs, in fact, only 5 percent indicated that they intend to embark on precision medicine plans in near future. 

FitzGerald likened it to the HITECH (Healthcare Information Technology and Economic Clinical Health) Act or ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) in that everyone paying attention sees precision medicine coming but it will still take a while to actually arrive.

“People want to do it and there are technology platforms on the market that can harness precision medicine data and techniques,” FitzGerald said, pointing specifically to Syapse, DNAnexus and Genospace as examples.

Which of the following best describes the primary strategic driver for your precision medicine program?

High-revenue tech-savvy health systems such as Intermountain, the Mayo Clinic, Penn Medicine and Stanford, to name just a few, have precision medicine programs in place.

But those exceptions as of now are few and far between.

Quick HIT Study: Precision Medicine respondents, in fact, listed not knowing enough about it, limited access to necessary resources, current focus on other clinical areas, uncertain reimbursement, lacking technologies and overall cost as the primary barriers between their organization and precision medicine. 

“How,” FitzGerald asked, “does it trickle down to all healthcare organizations?”

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