Inova Health System bets big on precision medicine

By tapping into genomics and data analytics, Inova Health System is focusing its efforts—and capital spending—on precision medicine initiatives that hospital officials believe will change the way clinicians care for patients.

Inova is making significant investments in a new Center for Personalized Health that will use health data housed in the system’s EHR software, along with patient-generated health data, social factors and genomics, to provide an individualized approach to medicine, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

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“Take a cancer drug that’s effective 30% of the time,” Todd Stottlemeyer, CEO of the new center, told the newspaper. “A better way to understand it is that the drug is 100% effective for 30% of the people who possess certain genes or proteins.”

The center is currently under construction but plans to house an innovative new cancer center and the Inova Clinic that will make genetic testing an integral part of treatment for a wide range of specialties. The new institution will also serve as an incubator for analytics research and bioinformatics.

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At the HIMSS conference in Orlando, Florida, last week, John Deeken, M.D., COO of the Inova Translational Medicine Institute, told HIMSS 17 TV the “possibilities for genomic testing are endless” now that the price of genetic testing has come down significantly over the last decade.

“The technology to do the lab test has gotten simple and cheap,” he said. “How to interpret it, how to incorporate it into medical records, how to do the bioinformatic analysis—that’s where the future is for this field.”

Health IT leaders believe genomics and precision medicine will pave the way toward a more patient-centered approach to care, and several large healthcare institutions such as Stanford and Memorial Sloan Kettering have begun making significant investments in genomics.

However, several hurdles remain, most notably on the payment side of the equation. In a recent survey of 11 major U.S. insurance companies, executives pointed to insufficient evidence as a primary reason why certain genetic cancer screening tests do not meet existing coverage frameworks.