The Promise of Precision Medicine and Artificial Intelligence

Three things you can do today to prepare for its benefits

You’ve probably been hearing in the media about the benefits of artificial intelligence to healthcare services. A whole lot of people are excited about the way AI stands to improve medicine. One of the first ways that AI will help wellness is through the mechanism of precision medicine. But what does precision medicine mean, exactly? And how is it going to change the way you, as a patient, manage your wellness?

First, let’s acknowledge how much of today’s medical care amounts to trial and error. That can be frustrating for our patients. Visit three different docs and it’s possible to get three different treatment options.

But what if we knew exactly the correct prescription, every time, from the beginning? We are starting to chip away at this. For example, pharmacogenomic testing can now provide your physician with an additional piece of information to use when determining the best prescription for your particular situation. The limit here is that it still requires the physician to take into account multiple pieces of information, such as your medication history, other medical conditions and previous medication experiences, to calculate the correct medication to prescribe at the correct dose.

The next phase, where we will be able to truly deliver on the promise of precision medicine, will use artificial intelligence algorithms to design care that recognizes your needs, lifestyle and biology. I like the way our partner, Johns Hopkins Medicine, sums it up: Precision medicine “uses information from many sources—DNA, family history, imaging, lifestyle and environment—to create prevention and treatment plans tailored to you.”

That means much less trial and error. Less guesswork. Faster treatment that is right for the individual, with fewer unnecessary tests. Consider someone diagnosed with cancer. Today, if the patient asks, “Doctor, what are the chance this treatment’s going to cure me?”

The doctor will respond based on the results of large clinical studies. The prognosis represents a bell curve of results. We know that a few patients will have an amazing recovery that miraculously rendered them cancer-free in a month or two. Others will be in treatment for a year, maybe two, and the cancer will go into remission. And a very few will experience a swift decline despite the treatment. “The median survival rate for somebody like you with this treatment is five years,” we could say. “But it could be five months, or it could be 10 years.”

Things will be different with precision medicine. We’ll use data from your genetics, your medical history, your wearable devices and your environment, and we’ll feed it into AI algorithms and with much greater confidence than ever before, we’ll be able to treat exactly your problem, with exactly the right drugs.

At Medcan, we’re preparing for this future by partnering with Johns Hopkins Medicine, a world leader in the application of artificial intelligence to further the practice of medicine. The Baltimore-based hospital has invested tens of millions of dollars to advance patient care. Johns Hopkins now has 30 Precision Medicine Centers of Excellence (PMCOE) focusing on such conditions as prostate cancer, multiple sclerosis, scleroderma and pancreatic cancer. By decade’s end, the hospital network plans to have 50 PMCOEs.

With the Johns Hopkins relationship, Medcan is building on its bench strength in genetics, advanced diagnostics and lifestyle risk modification, to prepare for the future of wellness. As a Medcan client, you, too, can prepare for that future—in the following three ways:

  1. Use Your MyMedcan Portal. Your MyMedcan portal represents a central repository for your health data. At this point it’s a place to track test results and chronicle your journey toward wellness. Any test at Medcan is automatically loaded into the portal, but you can help your electronic medical record stay current by informing us of tests you’ve received at other facilities.
  2. Learn About Your Genes. Tools such as Proactive Genetic Screening and Pharmacogenomic Screening can provide medically actionable results based on a blood or saliva sample. They also represent a step toward the sort of personalized data that guides precision medicine.
  3. Track Your Wearable Data. Heart rate, sleep patterns, ECG readouts—wearables today can track a remarkable array of wellness-related data, much of which can help precision-medicine algorithms to diagnose you in the event of health problems down the road.

Today, medicine is both an art and a science—and the future of precision medicine will shift the profession more toward the science. Medcan is preparing for this future by creating relationships with world-renowned wellness centres like Johns Hopkins Medicine. And as an interested patient, you, too, can prepare for the future by managing your health and wellness data.

For additional wellness updates, follow Medcan on Twitter and Instagram @medcanlivewell. Visit medcan.com/geneticscreening to learn more about Medcan Genetics plus the Proactive Genetic Screening and Pharmacogenomic screening programs.

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