CONNECTED HEALTH CONFERENCE • Boston, MA • October 25-27, 2017
The Precision Medicine Initiative launched by President Obama in January 2015, has broad goals of “new discoveries and several new treatments that are tailored to specific characteristics, such as a person’s genetic makeup, or the genetic profile of an individual’s tumor.” But does this include enough personal health data in order to design precise treatments? Fortunately, a key component of this initiative, Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program, invites volunteers to contribute data from their electronic health records and health questionnaires, collecting health data on lifestyle habits and environmental exposures, a standard baseline physical evaluation and results from blood and urine samples.
So, what is missing? The cohort program does not mention patient generated health data not just from self-reported questionnaires but collected automatically via personal connected health devices, including health and wellness trackers and apps (e.g., Fitbit) and medical-grade devices, such as, glucose monitors and wireless blood pressure cuffs.
Also, social determinants of health may have a 20% effect on health risks. A recent report by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) analyzed broadband and health data at the national, state and county levels. Interactive maps showed 'double burden' areas at the intersection of higher-than-average chronic disease and broadband connectivity. We should also consider whether genetic technologies used in something like the Precision Medicine Initiative widen or reduce health disparities. In a recent article in Health Affairs, the authors note the potential for these technologies to reduce disparities provided these technologies are made more universally available and avoid stigmatization.
The PMI has great promise but some significant challenges not the least of which is being fulling funded by Congress.