Geisinger launches national precision medicine program, hires Huntington F. Willard to direct initiative

Geisinger Health System has announced plans for a national initiative to expand its precision medicine offerings. 

The National Precision Medicine Initiative will be based in the District of Columbia and aims to increase the national exposure for its precision medicine and genomics projects, the organization announced last week. It will also include partnerships that will grow Geisinger's precision medicine program nationally. 

The Pennsylvania-based integrated health services organization has hired Huntington F. Willard, Ph.D., an internationally known genomics researcher, to head the national initiative. When he joins the organization in January, one of Willard's first projects will be the launch of a Precision Health Innovation Lab, which will leverage data and research throughout Geisinger. 

“I’m thrilled to be joining the Geisinger family. I know of no other health system with such dedication to putting patients and their health first,” Willard said in the announcement. “I look forward to launching new programs committed to broadening Geisinger’s impact in precision health on a national scale.” 

RELATED: Geisinger's 'radical' approach to population health 

Geisinger has launched a number of cutting-edge initiatives that touch on precision medicine, population health, and patient engagement. It has partnered with Highmark to launch a community-based clinical health network in north central Pennsylvania, and has embraced a number of population health tools to reach underserved populations.

Its money-back guarantee has allowed the system to gather data on patient experience concerns and continue making changes to how it delivers care.

RELATED: Pennsylvania Health Secretary will become Geisinger's head of innovation 

High-powered data analytics has driven much of their innovation.

Geisinger CEO David T. Feinberg, M.D., said in the announcement that the system's investment in precision medicine has already benefited patients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and the system is "eager" to expand the program nationally. 

“The addition of Hunt Willard to our already outstanding genomics and precision health team at Geisinger allows us to ‘double-down’ on our bet on this game-changing approach to anticipatory medicine—preventing early-onset cancer, cardiovascular events, and other diseases, and keeping people out of hospitals,"  said Feinberg.