5 Ways Genomics Changes the Way Medicine is Practiced

Genomics touches every specialty in medicine and is radically changing how physicians detect, predict, prevent, and treat diseases. Genomics is the next step in personalizing evidence-based medicine and improving outcomes for patients. Here are five ways genomics changes the way medicine is practiced:

1. Targeted screening. Genetic information will soon be used as the first indicator as someone who may need intervention. Currently people are not screened for high cholesterol until adulthood, yet we know that some people are genetically predisposed to having high cholesterol from a young age and really should be screened and treated earlier. Similarly, breast and ovarian cancer have been shown to be linked to specific genes that can be detected before that genetic information is expressed. Genomics allows doctors to stratify their patients based on genetic code and predict with excellent accuracy which individuals should be screened and monitored earlier in their lives helping to prevent disease expression in those genetically predisposed to develop it. Likewise, other patients who are unlikely to develop specific diseases can be screened later in life or less frequently, reducing exposure to things like radiation.

2. Personalized Treatment. Once a disease is detected, clinicians are able to predict the response of particular individuals to care options. Already clinicians are able to identify individuals at risk for an adverse reaction to chemotherapeutic drugs on the basis of variants in processing enzymes. Genomic screenings are also already able to predict the response of malignancies to particular drug usage in individuals.

3. Higher patient compliance. Rather than facing broad healthcare guidelines such as mammograms after a specific age, patients will know that instructions are based on a more personal risk assessment and are more likely to comply with “doctor’s orders.”

4. Breakthroughs in treatment options. Genomic research will also help researchers develop new drugs based on detailed knowledge of receptor structure, making drug options more effective.

5. Improved use of healthcare dollars. Targeted screenings and risk assessments will ultimately mean better use of healthcare dollars and value-based care. Rather than treating all patients the same, more individualized medicine and more accurate screenings help ensure interventions are necessary.

Looking out into the future, genomics will inform our understanding of common diseases to provide better preventive strategies: It’s a huge step towards personalizing common public health issues that affect the public across a lifespan. As the national effort toward a million-person cohort becomes a reality, it will offer unprecedented access to information on subsets of the population and insights into how behavioral and environmental factors affect gene expression allowing further personalization in medicine and the ability to translate the data into actionable information.

For more information, download our new white paper Primary Care and Genomics: How Will Advances in Genomics Affect the PCP’s Daily Practice and What Can We Do to be Prepared?

You may also be interested in the recent Physicians on Healthcare podcast with Michael Murray and Monica Giovanni, co-authors of Clinical Genomics: Practical Applications for Adult Patient Care, on the future of medicine and genomics.

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