Currently there is limited adoption of precision medicine programs across U.S. hospitals and the majority of organizations conducting precision medicine are focused on cancer, according to a recent study from HIMSS Analytics.
And, HIMSS Analytics survey findings indicate that most organizations cite clinical data systems integration and the integration of clinical and genomic data as a significant challenge, which underscores the need for additional electronic health record (EHR) integration and functionality.
The HIMSS Analytics’ 2016 Essentials Brief: Precision Medicine study provides a snapshot of how healthcare organizations are approaching the use of technology to address disease treatment and prevention that takes into account variability in genes, environment and lifestyle for each individual.
For the report, researchers surveyed 137 CMIOs/CMOs, physicians, biomedical director and pathology directors on their current approach toward precision medicine, their areas of focus, their IT approach and the challenges of integrating clinical and genomic data.
For the purposes of the survey, precision medicine was defined as an approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment and lifestyle for each person. Of the respondents, a little less than one-third (29 percent) indicated they conduct precision medicine within their organizations and 34 percent indicated they do not currently use precision medicine. In addition, 37 percent of respondents were unsure. According to the study authors, the limited adoption of precision medicine programs across U.S. hospitals is understandable, “as very few organizations have the funds, technology or expertise to conduct precision medicine on site.”
As the report authors notes, precision medicine is a very specialized area in healthcare that requires a substantial amount of expertise, which is why many of the organization’s currently conducting precision medicine are large, research-based organizations such as academic medical centers (35 percent) or multi-hospital health systems (25 percent), or at organization’s with over 500 beds (41 percent), as those organizations have the available internal and external resources.
Earlier this year President Obama launched the Precision Medicine Initiative with the purpose of creating a one-million-person cohort to help understand disease, provide better treatments and improve health outcomes. A large amount of PMI funding has gone to the National Cancer Institute for the development of cancer treatments, the study authors wrote. Therefore, many organizations conducting precision medicine have been focused on cancer. In fact, close to 80 percent of organizations surveyed that are conducting precision medicine report they are focused on cancer. The study authors also note that cancer is a genome disease and work can be done on tumors to understand genetic changes associated with an individuals’ specific cancer.
However, precision medicine work is being conducted in other areas as well, such as neurological disease as 38 percent of respondents reported doing work in this area, as well as prenatal screening (30 percent of respondents). Twenty-eight percent of respondents reported conducting precision medicine work in the area of cardiovascular disease. In addition, 10 percent of respondents reported focusing their precision medicine effort son epidemiology.
The study also found that current precision medicine efforts are focused on disease prevention and early disease diagnosis, but, according to the study authors, future efforts will be focused on patient risk assessment which should complement the market move toward population health.
More than 60 percent of respondents indicated the most significant challenge when conducting precision medicine is clinical data systems integration and the integration of clinical and genomic data. According to the study authors, this underscores the need for additional electronic health record (EHR) integration and functionality.
“The need for clinical data integration between precision medicine data/solutions and the patient record will be essential in the future. As the move toward population health grows and access to patient genomic data becomes more essential, EHR solutions will need the ability to harness that data for the holistic patient record and incorporate it into the clinician workflow,” the study authors wrote.
“The initiation of the Precision Medicine Initiative has certainly helped bring precision medicine to the forefront of healthcare today, especially in research areas such as cancer,” HIMSS Analytics director of research Brendan FitzGerald said in a prepared statement. “However, the process of conducting precision medicine is still highly specialized and many healthcare organizations rely upon a combination of internal and external (3rd party testing laboratories) resources to aid them in their processes. Specific solution platforms dedicated to precision medicine are now being implemented across the market which should help organizations in the journey toward specific disease treatment and prevention.”