How Precision Medicine And Big Data Will Be The Future Of Healthcare

Precision medicine and big data are shaping the future of modern healthcare and medicine. Here's what to know about its impact

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January 6, 2020
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The healthcare industry has come a long way than it was a decade ago. Be it research to develop drugs and treatments, diagnosis to help identify diseases in a better manner or genomics to help understand the human body efficiently. Healthcare is truly transformed in every way that we know today. Technology has a huge role to play in this development. Without it, the healthcare industry would still be at a pace far left behind than the rest of the world. Even though we can’t completely say that healthcare has been truly utilizing every bit of the emerging technologies, it is fair to say that progress is being made. We are still behind harnessing the complete potentials of artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, and other such hot technologies. But, thank God ideas and concepts are already laid and all there’s left to do is groundwork to head in the direction of progress.

Technology in Healthcare- An Example

We are finally seeing the health records of patients turn digital. And that’s just because of digitization and widespread use of cloud technology. While it may seem like a small step it is what along with other such factors leading the healthcare industry to its tipping point. On one hand digitization of records is helping doctors understand the causes of any underlying conditions better, it is also assisting them in forming better courses of treatment for them. Similarly, it is also laying the ground for another technology to penetrate and assist doctors in their jobs. Data analytics is one such technology selling like hotcakes in the market.

And the healthcare sector is reluctant to adopt it for being the remedy to various emerging challenges. Moreover, electronic health records of patients will also enable researchers to dig into the data and utilize it for various researches. There is no question about how cloud technology has made collaboration possible. Different institutes can collaborate in a click, no matter how geographically apart they are located. Thus, more knowledge is being put to the table and technology is helping yield faster results.

The Idea of Precision Medicine

And that’s just one example of technology. Similarly, we have researchers doing significant research in genomics and coming up with answers at the cellular level of disease. This is paving way for an altogether new direction of the healthcare industry, one that will not just be beneficial for research or treating diseases, but also cause an impact on the quality of lives of people. Welcome precision medicine- the next-generation course of treatment that is all set to transform lives, give new hope to people and take healthcare to altogether new heights.

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The point is that precision medicine breaks the stereotype of one size fits all approach. Traditionally drugs have been designed suiting this method, the consequences of which can be most commonly experienced by what is known as side effects. While one drug suits a person, it leaves some kind of side effects on others. And not everyone cares because these side effects are not lethal in many cases. But, the whole idea of precision medicine grows on relevant biological, medical, behavioral and environmental information about a person, with the sole motto to personalize medicine.

Big Data and Personalized Medicine Go Hand in Hand

Isn’t it fundamental to medicine too now that we have a surplus of big data in the world? After all, everything else is getting personalized around us- from the mobile applications, we use to our gadgets, e-commerce websites, products and services and everything else in between. A little late, but personalization is the healthcare sector is all set to go a long way with big data solution companies walking hand in hand with it.

Precision medicine could directly mean that doctors are able to predict a patient’s risk of disease well in time. This means analyzing a plethora of parameters about their demographics, geography, genetic factors, past medications or treatments along with real-time health status. In other words, big data is allowing far more precision and tailoring than was ever before possible in the history of mankind. It helps link together diverse datasets to reveal hitherto unknown correlations and causal pathways.

But if you look at from a different perspective, precision medicine has already existed, it’s just that it was less precise. Clinicians and other medical experts have always sought to deliver therapies and preventive care that will best suit a particular patient in front of them. The point is that they have never been able to link together a wide number of parameters that were only computationally possible. Big data brings everything to the picture.

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A recent report by the Centre for Connected Medicine and KLAS research suggests that healthcare institutions are increasing their investments in technology, which is all set to boost big data analytics and precision medicine. However, the lack of reimbursements and limited resources for these tools are significant barriers for organizations. The report further states that data analytics, precision medicine, and patient engagement are highly connected and demonstrating a shift from fee for service to value-based core. As organizations move forward by demonstrating interest and taking risks in the field of healthcare, there is an emerging need for increased data visibility.

As many as 70 leaders from 65 reputed healthcare organizations stated that they are heavily interested in technologies that will help improve data analytics and aggregation efforts in the healthcare industry. As we move into the future, we will have even more abundance of data. The only concern comes in utilizing analytics for the aggregation of data in a way that assists doctors in better decision making regarding a patient’s health. In other words, effective and comprehensive data aggregation has the potential to enable better decision making along with powering population health management.

Conclusion

The applications of big data in precision medicine are plenty. While basic research only focuses on, for example, facilitating the discovery of molecular targets for new therapies, clinical practice with big data helps diagnose people and target therapies at molecular profile along with establishing more effective preventive healthcare through accurate prediction of likely disease onset. Even though the deployment of precision medicine is close to none as of now, the revolutionary step is all set to take over the future of healthcare.