Privacy must be at forefront of precision medicine initiatives

As use of precision medicine in healthcare expands, in part because of President Barack Obama's initiative on the practice, privacy issues must be addressed.

Florence Comite, a physician who works in precision medicine, tells HealthcareInfoSecurity that to create personalized care, very sensitive data has to be collected--such as information on issues like depression and anxiety to high risks of cancer or diabetes--data that can impact a person's employment or health insurance.

"That's a very important concern in today's world with precision medicine erupting ... I am very excited about it, but I think it makes us stop in our tracks and think about what we can share and what we will share, and what that ultimate impact will have on the individual in the future," Comite says.

The president is asking for $215 million for his initiative, which aims to increase the use of personalized information in healthcare. However, there has also been debate over the possibilities--and possible pitfalls--associated with using patients' genes to design targeted disease treatments.

At her New York-based endocrinology private practice, Comite says when precision medicine comes into play, privacy is a big priority. The practice uses a personalized electronic health record system to store its data--one that also is HIPAA protected.

In addition, the practice can protect private information in the EMR relayed during a conversation; it is kept separate and not joined to the patient's record, she says.

To learn more:
- listen to the interview