July 10, 2017

Transforming the practice of care in the most inefficient and wasteful health system

The Smart-Medicine Solution to the Health-Care Crisis

Eric Topol provides clear insights for a wide range of life sciences issues, and some days ago he insisted once again on the need to reform US health system. Everybody is talking about financing and acces, and he focuses on organization. That's good to hear. I suggest a close look at the WSJ article. Although the scope is US, you'll find many comments that are absolutely useful for our health system (the public and specially the private one).
Our health-care system is uniquely inefficient and wasteful. The more than $3 trillion that we spend each year yields relatively poor health outcomes, compared with other developed countries that spend far less. Providing better health insurance and access can help with these problems, but real progress in containing costs and improving care will require transforming the practice of medicine itself—how we diagnose and treat patients and how patients interact with medical professionals.
And he backs a smart medicine practice:
Smart medicine offers a way out, enabling doctors to develop a precise, high-definition understanding of each person in their care. The key tools are cheaper sensors, simpler and more routine imaging, and regular use of now widely available genetic analysis. As for using all this new data, here too a revolution is under way. 
And the key integrative tool:
At the Scripps Research Institute, we are working with the support of a National Institutes of Health grant and several local partners to develop a comprehensive “health record of the future” for individual patients. It will combine all the usual medical data—from office visits, labs, scans—with data generated by personal sensors, including sleep, physical activity, weight, environment, blood pressure and other relevant medical metrics. All of it will be constantly and seamlessly updated and owned by the individual patient.
Good news (US only):
 Fortunately, serious ventures in smart medicine are well along. My colleagues and I at the Scripps Research Institute are leading the Participant Center of the NIH’s Precision Medicine Initiative, which is currently enrolling one million Americans. Volunteers in the program will be testing many of the new tools I have described here. The recently formed nonprofit Health Transformation Alliance, which includes more than 40 large companies providing health benefits to 6.5 million employees and family members, intends to address the high cost of health care by focusing on, among other things, the sophisticated use of personal data.
I have to say that his position is well grounded, it is not a fascination for technology. The true health reform starts with the practice of medicine. Completely agree.