Healthcare is in the midst of a data revolution and this data revolution is leading to the rise of precision medicine. Therapies to treat deadly diseases for individual patients have seen success which ushers in new hope suggesting that some of the toughest medical conditions can now have a solution. While these developments are indeed encouraging, it also gives the entire healthcare fraternity an opportunity to aim higher. Since scientific discoveries have enabled us to treat diseases based on individual factors, can it not be effectively leveraged to prevent diseases?
Dr. Minor, Dean of Stanford Medicine, surgeon and scientist spoke of how precision medicine should move towards becoming more preventive, in a Forbes article. He says today instead of curing the disease when it strikes, the focus should be on preventing the disease before it strikes. And this can only be enabled when data meets hands-on healthcare.
The amount of healthcare data has exploded over the past few years giving physicians and researchers more opportunities to evaluate data for assessments. Data is now being used heavily in clinical trials to assess which treatment will work for a larger group of people. Doctors now need to assess large data pools of information from ‘the lens of an individual patient’. For that, doctors now need to apply a working knowledge of data science to medical science and achieve better patient outcomes.
At the same time, more people today actively manage their own health with the use of wearable devices and online medical websites. What this demographic mainly demands is a user-friendly healthcare experience, that allows them to manage their health easily. Healthcare providers and medical schools too are increasing collaboration with computer science, engineering and healthcare business innovators with a view to adopting new technological developments in medical training and practice. Students and doctors are now leveraging data to monitor pandemic strains, decipher the causes of autism, detailing the human genome system etc. Schools like Stanford are collaborating with giants like Google to understand how to draw the picture of a healthy human being by collecting anonymous genetic and molecular information.
However, while doctors leverage data to gain very significant insights into patient’s health and behavior, the time-honored practice of listening to the patients cannot be discounted at all. The data that you get from the patients directly is more nuanced and reflects how the symptoms of the disease manifest and what they fear. This information in combination with data generated from other sources can help doctors develop a more holistic approach to healthcare.