In President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address, he launched the Precision Medicine initiative, which aims to revolutionize health outcomes by giving clinicians tools to better understand the complex mechanisms underlying a patient’s health, disease or condition, and to better predict which treatments will be most effective.
Up until now, most medical treatments were designed with a one-size-fits-all approach which can be successful for some, but not for others. President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative proposes that, by recognizing that individuals vary in their genetic makeup and that responses to medications differ as a result, we can make smarter treatment plans for each patient. Now, a year later, debate is still ongoing as to whether this approach to treating disease can truly deliver on its promise of revolutionizing healthcare and improving outcomes.
While the future of the Precision Medicine Initiative is uncertain as we enter into a new presidential term, how can we as clinicians implement tenets of precision medicine right now when treating our patients?
First and foremost, one tenet of more precise care is enabling our patients to access their own health record data so they can review it when they need to and share it with others when they want. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has made a huge push for patient access to health records through its pioneering “Blue Button.”