7 ways precision medicine will make its mark

Precision medicine has potential to change how clinicians and the healthcare industry conceptualize disease.

7 ways precision medicine will start to make its mark

Precision medicine is slowly entering the mainstream of health and medical discourse, but is still a term in need of a concise definition to move beyond its origins in genomics to the present, where precision medicine also must encompass population health management, according to a new study from Chilmark Research.

Precision medicine promises new therapies based on an individual’s characteristics and lifestyle. The goal is to improve health monitoring, optimize pharmaceutical interventions and contribute to better population health interventions. Precision medicine also has the potential to change how clinicians conceptualize disease based on insights at the molecular level, but this is a long-term process. Here are seven key ways precision medicine could change the practice of medicine.

A new way to look at data

Precision medicine will catalyze new approaches to using data for quality improvement and biopharma business models, as well as financing mechanisms. It introduces new data types that will need to be linked to healthcare’s diverse current data sources and outcomes data, and will increasingly play a role in drug pricing.


Phenotyping is predicting an organism’s phenotype using only genetic information collected from genotyping or DNA sequencing. Computational phenotyping will transform the way that patient cohorts are identified for targeted treatments and possibly value-based risk stratification. Derived insights could enable clinicians to identify, stratify and manage population more accurately, supported with clinical programs and interventions that better address quality and cost goals.

Evidence gathering

The evidence base for precision medicine-based diagnostic tools must grow across standalone and companion diagnostics. For that to happen, payers will need to see the value of precision medicine-derived tests and procedures for patients. Initially, payers will agree to pay for relatively inexpensive sequencing. Health systems may need to adjust time horizons for realizing benefits for some conditions and corresponding therapeutics and diagnostics.

New career roles

Biomedical informaticians, data scientists and genetic counselors will emerge as the primary conveners and conduits of precision medicine. Demand for talent far outstrips supply, and healthcare organizations will struggle to compete against the culture and compensation offered by the major technology companies. Care coordination teams must evolve to meet the demands that precision medicine data create.


Precision medicine will require unprecedented multidisciplinary collaboration during this period of systemic retooling of traditional healthcare organizations and their IT infrastructure. A great deal of social innovation around data sharing and cooperation will be required to succeed across the stakeholder ecosystem.

Concern about marketing and privacy

Precision medicine arrives at a time when the data policies of technology companies are coming under fierce criticism from consumers and government. This includes the direct-to-consumer-genetics market. Better data governance mechanisms and broader discussions about privacy, use of data and who benefits will be the key to consumer buy-in.

New markets

New market mechanisms and innovation in the underlying economics of precision medicine will be essential. A key element of creation of a market for precision medicine therapies is the funding mechanism whereby healthcare moves from a one-size-fits-all approach to personalized therapies. The current market failure for addressing the high costs and uncertainties of new therapies may hold back the market. The industry will need to collaborate with insurers and government to identify and invoke new funding mechanisms such as “cure funds.”

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