One CIOs View of Precision Medicine (Healthcare Informatics)


[By David Raths]

In a wide-ranging May 9 discussion with Health Catalyst Senior Vice President Eric Just, John Halamka, M.D., M.S., CIO at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, delivered some strong opinions about the future of precision medicine and gave some concrete examples of transitions already under way at Beth Israel.

For instance, Halamka spoke about how his organization is taking advantage of the Internet of Things and mobile devices to help create and track patient care plans. He discussed a blockchain pilot project Harvard is doing with M.I.T., and he noted that the move to precision medicine is proceeding at different paces in different regions of the country just as the shift to value-based care is.

Halamka started by drawing a distinction between personalized medicine and precision medicine, two terms that often get conflated. (In fact, they often seem to be used interchangeably.) If you have a 50-year-old female patient with diabetes, personalized care would be following treatment guidelines and protocols that have shown to be effective for other 50-year-old females with diabetes. It is really more of a population health approach.

Precision medicine goes beyond that to take into account genomics, diet, immunizations and the environment — which Halamka referred to as the “exposome.” That term has been defined as the measure of all the exposures of an individual in a lifetime and how those exposures relate to health. Halamka said he foresees a continuum will develop between the population health personalization approach and precision medicine, which takes into account much more individual detail, including… View Full Article Here