What if physicians could tailor treatments specifically to their patients rather than relying solely on common factors such as age, gender, socioeconomic level, and preexisting conditions? Personalized medicine is allowing healthcare professionals to do just that. With personalized medicine, also known as precision medicine, physicians can prevent and treat disease more effectively based on an individual patient’s genomic, environmental, and lifestyle data.
Since genetic testing has become widely available and more affordable, researchers have been able to combine this data with clinical, pharmaceutical, and other sources of data to glean significant insights into how specific treatments perform in individuals with particular genetics.
What Is Personalized Medicine or Precision Medicine?
In the past, physicians were forced to approach their recommendations and treatment plans based on population averages and statistical averages. But sometimes this approach fails since each patient’s genetics is different, and genetics impact a variety of health factors.
Personalized medicine focuses on using an individual patient’s genetic profile to guide healthcare decisions, including preventing and treating disease. Genetic data and other biomarkers can indicate diseases a patient is predisposed to, which therapies have the highest chance of success, which medications are likely to be well tolerated and effective, and which dosages are most ideal. The medical community’s increasing understanding of genomics helps physicians identify more effective prevention strategies, more accurate diagnoses, and better treatments.
Personalized Medicine vs. Precision Medicine
The terms personalized medicine, precision medicine, and genomic medicine all refer to using genetic information and biomarkers to inform healthcare decision-making. Today, many in the medical community prefer to use the term precision medicine instead of personalized medicine since it’s less open to misunderstanding. While personalized medicine does provide a tailored approach to treatment, it does not prescribe a completely unique regimen for each individual patient.
Benefits of Data-Driven Personalized Medicine
Genetics plays a huge role in whether a patient will develop a particular disease, which prevention strategies are most likely to succeed, and which treatments will be most effective. Personalized medicine offers a plethora of benefits, including the following:
Predict the probability of developing disease: Healthcare professionals can combine genomic data with environmental and lifestyle data to forecast a patient’s likelihood of developing diseases such as heart conditions or autoimmune illnesses.
Improve disease prevention and customize prevention strategies: Based on a patient’s predispositions to specific diseases, physicians can create prevention plans specific to those diseases.
Slow or stop disease progression: When healthcare providers have a patient’s genetic information and combine it with clinical data, they can better identify which treatments are most likely to be effective for that patient.
Improve drug prescription: Genetic and pharmaceutical data combine to indicate which drugs a patient is most likely to tolerate and respond to.
Improve health outcomes more efficiently: When physicians aren’t forced to rely on educated guesswork, they can significantly streamline the trial-and-error process and help patients improve health outcomes faster.
Challenges of Using Data for Personalized Medicine
While the promise of personalized medicine is exciting, there are several challenges holding healthcare organizations back from fully experiencing its benefits. Here are three of the most significant:
Data silos and obstacles to sharing data
Personalized medicine combines massive amounts of data from many different sources. This data resides in a variety of platforms across multiple organizations, from EHR systems to clinical trials databases. Siloed data is difficult to analyze in a cohesive manner, and data sharing is complicated but absolutely critical for personalized medicine to be effective. These twin challenges can be addressed with a centralized repository that has robust governance and security features with access-controlled data sharing capabilities.
Data quality issues
Poor data quality can lead to invalid research results and ineffective (even dangerous) patient care decisions. Governance is crucial for data quality. Allowing healthcare professionals to access data without strategic governance in place creates significant risk for any healthcare organization. For this reason, organizations must have a reliable framework for managing data, ensuring quality, minimizing risk, and meeting data-focused regulatory compliance mandates such as HIPAA.
Beyond governance frameworks, healthcare organizations must ensure their data platform and data management tools are built with sufficient data security features such as dynamic data masking and end-to-end encryption for data in transit and at rest. Additionally, organizations should seek vendors with certifications such as HITRUST, SOC 1 and 2 Type II, PCI DSS, and FedRAMP.
Snowflake for Healthcare and Life Sciences
With the Snowflake Healthcare & Life Sciences Data Cloud, organizations now have the depth of insight, analytical power, and collaborative tools needed to operate efficiently and deliver the best results for patients. Snowflake allows data from multiple sources to be integrated on a single platform, making it easy to run advanced analytics tasks.
Snowflake allows near-unlimited storage and computing capacity that enables faster analytics queries. Sensitive data is stored securely with built-in security and governance that supports HIPAA, HITRUST, SOC 1 and 2 Type II, PCI DSS, and FedRAMP (medium) requirements.
With the advantage of Snowflake’s powerful core platform capabilities, healthcare and life sciences organizations can focus on advancing medical innovation and delivering exceptional health outcomes while maintaining strict levels of data security, governance, and compliance.
Explore Snowflake’s capabilities for healthcare and life science and see what it can do.