Personalization of Healthcare: What Does It Look Like?
With the dawn of artificial intelligence and data-driven analytics, it is hardly a surprise that all industries are moving towards personalization as the “one-size-fits-all” approach is no longer an option. Healthcare is no exception — recent research released by Abbott shows that 72% of patients want more personalized care specifically tailored to their unique clinical needs.
The term “personalized healthcare” first appeared back in the early 2000s, describing how technological advancements can help predict response to therapy, identify health risks, and monitor disease development. The Human Genome Project in 2003, one of the greatest scientific feats in history, marked the beginning of a “new era of the genome”, underpinning the shift towards patient-centered personalized care.
Lately the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on health systems across the globe, accelerating the urgency of personalized approach and importance of patient engagement in improving population health management and reducing unnecessary healthcare costs.
What is personalization of healthcare?
Personalized healthcare, also called personalized medicine or precision medicine, is a new frontier that explores the potential of data-driven predictions and deep patient engagement in advancing collaborative, higher-value decision-making and facilitating better outcomes.
In essence, personalized healthcare combines a patient’s medical history with the advancements in genomics, big data analytics, diagnostic testing, population health, and social determinants to individualize care and provide a specific treatment plan. As such, personalized medicine holds much promise in driving drastic improvements across the entire healthcare continuum by improving the quality of care and enabling better preventing diseases.
Key drivers of personalized healthcare
Earlier, it was extremely difficult to get access to health data residing across disparate legacy databases and gain actionable insights due to the lack of proper analytics capabilities. However, technological advancements allow healthcare providers to collect data at scale and derive actionable meaning from it to support the drive towards better clinical decisions.
The rise of omics
Medical and bioscience advancements like mass spectrometry and next-generation sequencing have contributed to the rise of omics — a novel area of study concerned with the analysis of complete genetic or molecular profiles of humans and other organisms. Omics is actually an umbrella term for disciplines ending in omics — genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, metagenomics, phenomics and transcriptomics. Multi-omics data plays a crucial role in understanding the biology of an individual and tailoring care strategies accordingly.
Digital health tools
Growing by leaps and bounds, digital health technology applies digital innovations to the healthcare field in order to boost efficiency and drive better outcomes. This is an umbrella term that encompasses mHealth apps, telehealth solutions, wearables and connected sensors, as well as electronic health records (EHRs) and electronic medical records (EMRs).
Artificial intelligence and big data analytics
Medical research and clinical trials, imaging data and genome sequencing — modern healthcare is awash with data. Just one human genome sequence produces approximately 200 gigabytes of data. Researchers estimate that by 2025, between 100 million and 2 billion genomes could be sequenced, representing four to five orders of magnitude growth.
But raw data has limited value. Big data analytics is intended to help healthcare providers correlate these multiple sources of data into a coherent while sophisticated AI-powered algorithms provide accurate, data-driven predictions.
The importance of personalized healthcare
Just like in other industries, personalization in healthcare bridges the gap between healthcare institutions and patients, enabling greater efficiency across all interactions.
Specifically, from a patient’s perspective, personalized healthcare solutions promote the following opportunities:
- Targeted treatment. Individual treatment plans are based on a patient’s personal diagnostics and DNA sequencing, and backed by extensive medical research.
- Faster recovery. A targeted treatment approach brings more effective, long-lasting results, faster.
- Increased engagement. When a patient is recognized as a unique individual with their unique health history and circumstances, they become more invested in their treatment and collaborative decision-making.
- Lower insurance costs. If patients stick to personalized preventative care plans and proactively address issues, they are likely to require less medical interventions and procedures, reducing the cost of healthcare insurance.
In addition to reshaping every step of a patient’s journey, a shift to personalized healthcare provides insurers and care providers with the opportunity to expand and optimize their services while decreasing expenditures. Namely, the benefits include:
- Reduced trial-and-error prescribing. With a clear view of which medications are effective for a patient, doctors can streamline the care delivery process and prescribe exactly what is needed.
- Higher probability of desired outcomes. Individualized care plans that adapt to a patient’s recovery process increase the chances that patients will comply with them in the long run and reach greater results.
- Optimized preventative care. Deep insights into chronic disease risks for an individual enable a shift to proactive care and personalized preventative care plans to help patients live a healthier life.
- Lower healthcare costs. Targeted treatment plans, timely access to information, proactive monitoring help improve the quality of life for patients and reduce healthcare costs.
- Personalized coverage plans. Insurers can offer customized health insurance plans that would take into account unique patient needs and circumstances.
Paving the way for personalized healthcare
By 2030, the global personalized healthcare market is expected to reach $5.7 trillion, growing at a CAGR of 11.6%. If anything, these figures suggest that healthcare organizations need to start paying close attention and introducing personalized medicine solutions.
But the transition from one-size-fits-all approach to new personalized healthcare paradigm is not without hurdles. While some initiatives like patient empowerment as well education and awareness are straightforward and can be implemented in the nearest future, other strategies will require more planning, investments, and community-wide collaboration. For instance, to move forward with a personalized healthcare approach it is necessary to redesign how an individual’s information is collected and processed in a way that ensures compliance with patient privacy regulations while also supporting broader research and population health management purposes.
Personalized healthcare is the future
From telemedicine and wearable tech to 3D printing and genomic sequencing, the future of healthcare is being shaped right in front of our eyes. These advancements in health technology are driving a paradigm shift towards a more personalized approach that can manifest into tangible benefits like highly effective individualized treatment, healthcare costs reduction, early disease detection, and more.
Kanda brings to the table its multi-year expertise in delivering HIPAA-compliant healthcare solutions to help health systems, hospitals and healthcare professionals deliver high-quality care and drive better outcomes. And with hands-on experience in big data analytics, Kanda’s experts are ready to tackle the challenges of building data-driven solutions to prepare for the era of personalized healthcare.
Contact us to get your next healthcare project up and running.