Meeting Offers Vision of Future U.S. Personalized Healthcare System

12/3/07

What if within the next decade or so the U.S. healthcare system was completely transformed? Hospitals like Boston’s Beth Israel were all replaced by retail clinics and medical centers specializing in specific procedures, such as hernia repair or hip replacement. Diagnostics companies finally started reaping the big profits while pharmaceutical companies, biotechs, and device makers took their place as underdogs. And a newly hatched Center for the Determination of Comparative Efficacy was the most feared gauntlet anyone had to navigate to get a new test or treatment to market.

That’s the vision I heard from Clayton Christensen, Wayne Rosenkrans, and other notable speakers at last week’s personalized medicine meeting sponsored by the Harvard Medical School-Partners Healthcare Center for Genetics and Genomics.

In case you’ve already started to roll your eyes, let me assure you this is not the same “personalized medicine” we have been hearing about for the last decade or so. The term once meant matching patients to therapies based on fancy new gene tests. But now its meaning has become intertwined with “evidence-based medicine,” according to Rosenkrans, who is president and chairman of the Personalized Medicine Coalition (PMC) and director of Personalized Medicine at AstraZeneca.

Now, when people talk about personalized medicine, they likely mean “Segmenting patients so that care makes sense,” he said. “It’s not individualized, it’s just stratified.” And it’s no longer just about genomics, but more about assigning a treatment based on evidence from lab tests, imaging, and IT tools such as decision-support software.

Lawmakers like this idea, because it should mean we can stop paying so much for unnecessary care: The more quickly and accurately we can determine who needs what, the more efficiently we should be able to dole it out. As healthcare costs soar, lawmakers are becoming more and more drawn to this new vision.

But back to some of the possible radical transformations I heard about at the meeting.

Rosenkrans predicted that by 2010 there will be between six and 12 new tests approved that guide the prescription of specific drugs, in addition to the few that have been approved to date. VC funding for this new expanded version of personalized medicine … Next Page »

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  • http://www.cphc.osu.edu Ohio State Center for Peronalized Health Care

    The success of the Hardvard meeting was part of the inspiration for the development of a national conference October 16-17, 2008 called “Translating Science into Personalized Health Care.” If you’re interested in learning more, please go to http://www.cphc.osu.edu.