Precision medicine is the great healthcare promise of today and the future. Successful individual treatments regimens and research programs, at large academic medical centers and community hospitals alike, are already underway and saving lives. And with large-scale initiatives such as the National Institutes of Health's All of Us research program, which kicked off earlier this month, that bold vision will only grow in its potential to improve the health of patients and populations. Without policies in place, there are major mistakes that hospitals, researchers, clinicians and policymakers must avoid to get this right. That point stuck with me among all the optimism here at the HIMSS Precision Medicine Summit in the nation's capital late last week.
Many public and private efforts in coming years will focus on research in precision medicine, developing biomarkers to indicate which patients are likely to benefit from a certain treatment so that others can be spared the cost--financial and physical--of being treated with unproductive therapies and therapeutic signals can be more easily uncovered. However, such research initiatives alone will not deliver new medicines to patients in the absence of strong incentives to bring new products to market. We examine the unique economics of precision medicines and associated biomarkers, with an emphasis on the factors affecting their development, pricing, and access.
In order for precision medicine to be successful, accurate characterization of the patient is necessary. A variety of biomarkers could provide the necessary data, collected through a variety of'omics techniques. Add to this the complication that biomarkers may differ between population groups, or indeed between individuals, and that tracking these biomarkers as the patient's status changes can be onerous, and the future of precision medicine could be described as bleak. Yet this pessimistic outlook has not stopped researchers from pushing forward in their search for accurate and robust biomarkers, which they hope will help to predict the risk of disease, ascertain the probability of positive clinical outcomes, and evaluate therapeutic efficacy. In this supplement to Science, these important topics are discussed, with a focus on advances in precision medicine research in China.
In precision medicine, sometimes called personalized medicine, researchers work to identify the genetic factors that drive or contribute to a disease and build medicine that targets the downstream effects of those miscreant genes. Then, they use genomic sequencing technologies to identify just those patients who bear the distinctive genetic signatures their drug works on. More often than not, these drugs are costly, and they don't work on everyone. But when the right patients get the right medicine at the right time, treatments will be more effective and have fewer side effects.
In this special guest feature, Terry Macaleer, President at Orion Health U.S., discusses how precision medicine is an emerging approach to identifying precisely those treatments that will work for a given patient, based upon terabytes of the patient's--and countless other patients'--genomic and other "-omic" data. He also highlights how the winning precision medicine solution will be provided by an agnostic health IT vendor, not an EMR vendor who isn't open to third-party solutions working in conjunction with their EMR offerings. Terry joined Orion Health in September 2017, and is responsible for operations of Orion Health's largest region. He has a long history of success in healthcare, having originally co-founded Eclipsys, which was acquired by AllScripts. Following that acquisition Terry went on to have an extremely successful career at AllScripts, before taking on other high-profile industry roles, including SVP of Client Engagement and Sales at Anthelio Healthcare Solutions. Terry's key areas of focus at Orion Health include customer engagement, business development and partnership strategy, and growing our leadership and delivery capability across the region.