By Diya Ramesh (‘23)
Precision medicine is a healthcare strategy in which treatment/prevention options are tailored to each individual. Essentially, it involves customizing healthcare to each patient based on various factors, including genetics.
You’re on the edge of your seat, wondering what happens next in the thrilling tale of precision medicine. You wonder, “Why bother with precision medicine? What does it actually do? Well, since precision medicine is centered around a core principle of patient-specific healthcare, this approach allows for various different benefits.
The idea is that more specific treatments will be more effective treatments, especially considering current issues of treatments not working well or at all for many patients. Logically, it truly makes sense. Non-precision medicine treats healthcare like a pair of one-size-fits-all pants. People are different and unique in countless ways, so how can one or even a few treatments work well for everyone? The issue is that they cannot, which is exactly why precision medicine is so promising. We all know that if we don’t do something right the first time, we will have to repeat it. Well, the same goes for medicine. Except now, the stakes are higher. Trying out different treatments to find the right one wastes time, money, and effort for all parties involved, which is especially impactful if a patient’s disease or condition is severe.
Furthermore, prior research has shown that our current method of healthcare is essentially trial-and-error and can cause drug toxicity and extreme side effects. Also, precision medicine focuses on preventing an issue, instead of just trying to react to it, as non-precision medicine does. So, using precision medicine will help shift this viewpoint. Some argue that precision medicine is less cost-effective, but this is actually the opposite of the reality, because healthcare costs can quickly increase for various reasons, such as poorly functioning treatments causing the need for further options, misdiagnosis, treatments for side effects, and more. While some may suggest that precision medicine causes a violation of patient privacy through access to genetic information, quality privacy laws and education of such difficulties and risks can help prevent the issue. Overall, it is definitely worth viewing precision medicine from the standpoint of a cost-benefit analysis. Some concessions will have to be made, but a lot more exists to be gained, particularly the opportunity to aid and save countless lives.
Spoiler Alert: Next time, we’ll learn about some real stories of precision medicine saving lives, along with the issue that our show’s star, precision medicine, faces. Stay tuned for more information, and enjoy the PrecisionMedicine show!