It is more important to know what sort of person has a disease than to know what sort of disease a person has.
The pace of progress in medicine and technology has been rapid as the field is continuously undergoing changes. One such area that is reshaping how medicine is practiced is Precision Medicine. Precision Medicine includes a range of advanced technologies like genome sequencing, real-time tissue and biofluid monitoring, use of remote monitoring devices, environmental factors, and data analytics, all of which are woven together to deliver healthcare solutions that are tailored to a patient’s needs.
How does Precision Health nurture physician-patient relationships?
In the traditional system of medicine, diseases were known to be attributed to a single pathological agent. The physician’s role was to manage the complaints of their patients by giving them an official diagnosis followed by an effective treatment strategy.
Over the years, advancements in research have established that health is an interplay of various factors like behavior, biology, psychology, and socio-environmental factors. This is where Precision Health comes into play. Precision Health’s novel approach based on innovative advancements in healthcare coupled with a focus on prediction and prevention of diseases can influence the physician-patient relationships in the following manner.
- Given the comprehensive nature of Precision Medicine, the physician-patient relationship will involve educating patients about concepts of health, personalized care, and patient involvement compared to the traditional system of healthcare delivery. Here the goal is to predict, prevent diseases, and protect health through personalized health planning.
- Patients will no longer be characterized as healthy or sick. Instead, they will be considered to be in some in-between state.
- Physicians will have increased access to a patient’s personal information through remote monitoring of their activities, behaviors, sleep patterns, geolocation, mood, dietary intake. Thus, the traditional physician-centered relationship is replaced by greater collaboration between the patient and the physician.
- The probabilistic diagnosis based on genetic status, biomarkers, environment and self-tracked lifestyle behaviors via digital apps will be subject to the uncertainties of predictive data analytics. The burden of this uncertainty will be shared by both the patient and the physician. Patients will have the opportunity to make informed decisions regarding future healthcare outcomes much in advance through this partnership.
- It will become hard to differentiate between patients and research participants since Precision Health will involve situations wherein research, and healthcare outcomes blend together. (For e.g. self-tracking digital apps can double as platforms to collect data for research.)
- Owing to data-driven healthcare services and the resulting issues concerning data privacy, physicians will have to play an active role as patient advocates. This will further foster the patient’s trust and cooperation.
While Precision Medicine is in its early stages and yet to scale up, it is a more sustainable and affordable model of healthcare and paves the way to a fulfilling physician-patient relationship that is governed by mutual trust and shared goals.