Eric Topol: Technologies, genomics are pushing adoption of personalized medicine

Digital apps, data, virtual doctor visits and genomics. Together, these innovations are giving the healthcare industry one last push into truly personalized care.  

That’s what Eric Topol, M.D., director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute, professor of genomics at the Scripps Research Institute and a longtime digital health advocate, told the audience at Arizona State University’s McKenna Lecture, according to ASU Now.

Topol told attendees that “genomics is probably the biggest [health-related] breakthrough in the last 50 years,” allowing physicians and researchers to design personalized treatments that target specific conditions. Genomics serves as the bedrock of ongoing research and initiatives directed at precision medicine. In a recent survey, 40% of clinicians and healthcare executives said genomics data will be useful in the next five years.

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Topol added that smartphones will become the “hub of the future of medicine,” allowing patients to transmit real-time health data to their physicians. Coupled with analytics and artificial intelligence, someday that data will be able to “predict a heart attack before it happens,” Topol said.

Although most in the medical community have embraced the promise of precision medicine, others have noted that challenges associated with transforming clinical care still remain.

Adding to those challenges, President Donald Trump’s $5.8 billion proposed cut to the National Institute of Health has also raised doubts about the future of precision medicine initiatives.

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“I think [the NIH budget cut] would be cataclysmic, beyond devastating, since it is not only a profound cut, but it is also coming at an especially momentous time of biomedical research,” Topol told FierceHealthcare earlier this week.