Precision medicine will falter without a parallel focus on delivery, researchers say

Female doctor talking to male patient in hospital bed
Precision medicine is "more than genes and small molecules," researchers write. Reimagining care delivery is just as important.

The genomic research and medical advancements behind precision medicine are crucial to personalizing patient care, but researchers argue that those innovations will have little impact without a concurrent focus on delivery.

A “Precision Delivery Initiative” would complement President Barack Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) by integrating predictive analytics into clinical workflows, tapping into innovative data sources to establish clinically validated best practices and empowering patients to use their own data to support personalized medicine, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the University of Pennsylvania wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine.

That focus on delivery could be a solution to some of the challenges raised by researchers who say the slow process of transforming clinical care could temper the immediate impact of precision medicine research.

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Similar to the PMI, the authors said a focus on delivery would require a “coordinated research agenda and recurring investment” from the federal government to make healthcare infrastructure improvements and promote partnerships between a wide range of clinical and IT stakeholders. A coordinated delivery initiative could integrate advancements in precision medicine by incorporating clinical decision support systems and real-time alerts into clinical workflows.

“There is more to personalized medicine than genes and small molecules,” the researchers wrote. “Enhanced digitization, transparency, and application of clinical data may put precision medicine into the hands of today’s patients—and make the grand conception of the PMI a reality.”

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Of course, obtaining the funding necessary for a concurrent precision delivery initiative could be problematic under the current administration. President Donald Trump’s proposed cuts to the National Institutes of Health and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality have already raised doubts about the future of the PMI and federally funded research initiatives.