Advances in genomics and precision medicine will improve understanding of human diseases in healthcare. In the near future, doctors may be able to diagnose symptoms based on a patient’s unique genetic makeup and offer personalized treatments that improve health outcomes and save lives. There are a number of new programs underway to further improve the delivery of precision medicine and harness the full potential of genomic medicine. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Center for Genomic Medicine (NCGM) are just a couple of examples. These programs will complement the ongoing efforts of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) to advance the use of genomes and genome research in healthcare. The establishment of this center is part of the NIH’s efforts to use big data to accelerate the research activities.
In addition to genomics, precision in population health can be promoted by the use of big data, such as health-related data from health care providers. Big data has identified a wide range of health problems, from obesity and diabetes to heart disease and cancer. Data on these health issues, as well as other health outcomes, are becoming increasingly available with the potential to make implementation more precise.
There is a strong link between precision health and the use of big data in population health. Population health precision is about using the best available data to target all types of intervention more effectively and efficiently at those most in need. By bringing together different disciplines and looking at specific health problems from different perspectives, we can make it easier to find precise solutions for population and public health. As Richard Horton recently put it: “Precision public health offers an opportunity to revitalize a discipline that has never been more important to the health of the most vulnerable and marginalized communities.
Machine learning and predictive analysis tools are used to make meaningful use of large amounts of genomics data for evaluation and implementation purposes. Overall, these studies may have the potential to alter clinical assessments through genome sequencing, but robust analytical methods are needed to maximize and evaluate the quality of the information synthesized from the studies.
As we learn from the lessons of Direct To Consumer (DTC)’s and genomics, digital health could be integrated more efficiently into the health system, and in turn help us realize the full potential of precision medicine.