While advances in treatments tailored to patient’s individual genetic traits continue to revolutionise health outcomes, the movement towards personalised healthcare more broadly can enhance the delivery of care across the health system.
At the CommBank Future of Health conference held on 13 November 2018, providers and other industry representatives discussed the programs underway to develop the future of precision health, leveraging many technologies that already exist today.
Precision health, not precision medicine
The conference heard of a future-state where technology will support the delivery of individualised health management plans in real-time and where patients and their families can receive personalised health alerts that are seamlessly connected to the medical clinic with multi-disciplinary teams on hand.
The distinction was made between precision medicine – right treatment, right dose, right person – and precision health. The latter moves beyond genomics to also account for people’s lifestyles, behaviours and the communities in which they live.
In fact, discussions at the conference even pointed to behavioural metrics emerging as one of the greatest advances in healthcare over the next 15 years or so.
Another theme discussed at the conference was the importance of providing patient’s with a human connection, augmented by machine support. Speakers discussed the potential for technology and people to work together and harness real-time data to provide the information we need to manage patient needs.
Evidence of early progress
We are already seeing significant advances in this area. For example, many providers are transforming the way they think about their patients, carers and families. They are working to combine staff support with technology to provide each individual patient with what they need, when they need it.
For example, beyond consulting with patients face-to-face, providers agreed that one of the critical imperatives is to deliver an omni-channel experience.
This includes empowering carers to make decisions when on-site with a patient, harnessing a team of specialist health professionals, and leveraging real-time data analytics and communications technology to deliver more personalised care remotely.
This brings us to the current state, where more providers are enabling patients to monitor their own health and wellness at home and to keep in regular digital contact with their health team. With the support of touch-screen computers and measuring devices, patients can record their vital signs (like blood pressure, oxygen levels and blood sugars) each day. These can then be sent securely to specially trained virtual health teams.
These services seek not only to empower patients to take control over monitoring their own health, but also to leverage technology to connect with a range of supporting health providers.
GPs also on the journey
GPs are also combining patient-generated data with in-clinic resources.
Some of the leaders taking this approach look to deliver individualised health management plans with the help of supporting teams. This can be achieved through a combination of face-to-face visits, using apps or wearable technology to collect patient metrics and having context-specific prompts that are viewed by multi-disciplinary practice teams. Data-driven prompts are then escalated to clinicians or doctors as necessary, with the data assessed at regular intervals.