Much has been written about personalized medicine and the promise it holds to cure diseases and increase the quality of our lives. While personalized medicine has become a common buzzword, there is little understanding of what it truly means, how it will impact us specifically, and the role the cloud plays to make it all possible.

Most people view personalized medicine as using vast sets of “big data” to tailor treatments for life-threatening diseases based on a patient’s genetic makeup. The idea is that using the collaboration, scalability, and sheer computing capability of the cloud, researchers and doctors across the globe can instantly discover and share diagnostic, research, and therapeutic information to provide individualized treatment and dramatically improve the outcome for individuals. For instance, if an FDA approved drug is effective in treating one disease state in patients exhibiting specific genomic and biochemical characteristics, the cloud could instantly identify similar traits expressed by people with different disease states, resulting in treatment breakthroughs in days instead of decades.

The cost and time required to map a human genome have rapidly contracted over the past twelve years. In 2003, it took ten years and cost nearly $1 billion to map a single human genome. Today it takes six hours and about $1,000, according to DellVoice: The Future of Medicine. These genomic breakthroughs are fueling a great deal of optimism regarding the future of medicine, especially for those suffering from life-threatening diseases. While tapping genomic data to treat and prevent disease with precision is incredibly powerful, personalized medicine goes well beyond treating those who are very ill by bringing a customized experience to all consumers of healthcare across the entire continuum of care.

Personalized medicine for the masses

Today, just as people expect retailers like Amazon to deliver amazing service, consumers ranging from those with chronic conditions to those who are healthy are demanding a personalized healthcare experience.

No doubt, the rise of consumerism is driving massive change in healthcare as patients demand better and more personalized service for their healthcare dollar. This trend is evidenced by the array of online physician review sites and the crop of reputation management firms springing up to help healthcare professionals manage their online image.

At the same time, hospitals, health systems, physicians, laboratories and other providers are being forced to abandon the fee-for-service paradigm in favor of value-based reimbursement models that require measurably improved outcomes and outstanding service.

In order to compete in this consumer-driven, quality-based environment, providers must deliver personalized medicine that tailors the healthcare experience for each patient’s needs and delivers a level of service that will keep patients coming back.

With only 850,000 active medical doctors serving a population of 320 million people in the United States, personalizing the healthcare experience for all patients can be a daunting proposition. Thankfully, the emergence of healthcare cloud technologies designed to drive one-to-one engagement makes personalized medicine for the masses a reality for healthcare organizations.

For example, cloud-based healthcare relationship management software provides healthcare-specific CRM (customer relationship management) capabilities that tap into actionable business and clinical data, which in turn guide healthcare professionals, track interactions for accountable follow-up, and measure patient acquisition and retention effectiveness.

The same system can help healthcare providers actively manage patient populations with chronic conditions. Until now, providers haven’t had an effective way to reach at-risk patients to monitor their medication usage, guide lifestyle choices and ensure required lab results are kept up-to-date. Using a healthcare relationship management platform, health systems and providers can identify individuals with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease. These patients can then receive personalized information and reminder communications to better manage their care and conditions, bringing a personalized, one-to-one relationship to all at-risk patients in the population while reporting on the effective management of that population to payers such as Medicare, who reward top tier at-risk population engagement and management.

In addition to clinical data, business data is accessible to personally engage with all patients. Patient profiles can be segmented to direct personalized care and drive growth and retention through marketing campaigns. This is important for physician practices, which lose about half of their patient base every five years.

The time is now to personalize the healthcare experience

Genomics is the gold standard for personalized medicine. The prospect of creating a collection of interconnected cloud databases storing “human blueprints” that can determine what medicines will work best, and how to prevent the onset of illness, for each person is game changing. With that said, truly personalized medicine is much broader than genomics alone. We have the power today to leverage the cloud to deliver personalized medicine for the masses by harnessing clinical and business data to gain a personalized healthcare experience resulting in better health and dramatically higher patient satisfaction. Organizations that embrace these capabilities will thrive in the future of care while those that are unable to deliver a personalized service experience will fail to remain relevant.

About the Author

Brad Bostic has been leading technology-enabled services companies with an emphasis on healthcare innovation for the past twenty years. Brad’s experience with business, healthcare, software, and cloud technology has been instrumental in establishing as the inventor and leader in healthcare relationship management.