The Growing Trend of Precision Medicine

by Caitlin Moling on Feb 18, 2022

Doctors sitting around the table and interpreting x-ray image

One positive thing to come out of the pandemic (we like to be glass-half-full when we can) is the speed at which we’re embracing the digital transformation in healthcare. Precision medicine is more tangible than ever, with new technologies and operational strategies to tailor patient treatment from the outset.

The benefits are hard to deny. By incorporating valuable data and applying personalization at key points in the patient journey, we can enable a holistic understanding of the patient, transform care delivery, and improve diagnostic accuracy and therapy outcomes. The new proton-counting CT is just one example.

But evolving beyond our standard approach to delivering care is not easy. So today I’d like to offer some tips curated from non-healthcare digital adopters.

The Path to Precision: Healthcare Leaders Can Learn Lessons from Other Industries

Siemens Healthineers recently co-authored a white paper, “Standardization and personalization: lessons from other industries,” with Professor Michael T. Modic from Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The paper suggests that healthcare organizations look beyond the confines of the healthcare sector. This can help us achieve the seemingly paradoxical goals of standardizing and personalizing care to enable precision medicine. Crucial industry advancements that we can consider include:

  • Manufacturers reducing undesired product variation, improving quality, enhancing efficiency and keeping unit costs low
  • Retailers adding critical product and service differences through applied market segmentation
  • Banking, transportation and hospitality industries digitalizing the customer experience

Lessons from Manufacturing: Standardization

Whether it be microchips or cars, the success of global manufacturers relies on their ability to assemble products at a consistent level of quality and at low costs. I’m sure you can picture it—to achieve these results, factory floors are efficient and calm, workers understand their roles, and routines are refined and enhanced for peak productivity.

In the white paper, Siemens and Professor Modic point to several examples of how standardization of care can work, including the treatment of acute diseases such as stroke.

At the Cleveland Clinic system, embedding the stroke care path in the EMR across different care settings increased standardization over different venues and made the measurement of compliance more consistent and effective…The number of invasive procedures dropped, fewer people went through intravascular thrombolysis, and the number of related complications fell substantially. Additionally, the total cost of care decreased by 20%. This wasn’t a result of a new discovery. It was the result of doing what should have been done in a more consistent way with a stronger focus on measuring compliance and variability.”

Lessons from Retail: Personalization

Just as the manufacturing industry has best practices that can guide healthcare, so too does the retail sector. We all know patients are not merely “widgets in a factory.” As such, standardization measures can only elevate care so far. The successes of the retail world can teach healthcare leaders important lessons about the insights that can be gleaned from market segmentation.

For example, by understanding the variability between patients, you can create treatment strategies that account for unique needs and preferences. To tailor care, the whitepaper suggests using medical record data or administering health status questionnaires.

In addition, social, functional and behavioral characteristics can also help customize treatment options. Key characteristics to consider include health literacy, cognitive abilities, living arrangements and potential transportation barriers.

businessman hand working with modern technology and digital layer effect as business strategy concept
Lessons from Banking, Transportation and Hospitality: Digitalization

Look no further than your favorite apps (mine are Venmo, Uber and Airbnb) to see how digitalization can redefine an industry. While healthcare has been slow to explore service-focused technology, we know consumers are clamoring for the ease, choice and flexibility that digital tools offer.

Siemens and Professor Modic share three lessons that can translate into actionable insights. The first is that digital transformation is inevitable and disruptive. Healthcare leaders need to be prepared to adapt or risk being left behind. Second, digitalization should only be viewed as a tool, not an end in itself. Finally, a successful digital strategy must incorporate all parts of an organization. It cannot be perceived as a project purely owned by the IT department. As the paper notes:

“Google, for example, is developing processes to use AI to help with disease detection, manage data infrastructure and potentially become active in health insurance. Like Amazon, Google does not see itself in a small, restricting box; it regards itself as much more than a search and advertising company.”

Just as other industries have faced technological threats and transformation in the recent past, the healthcare system is at a crossroads. Patients have become empowered consumers who have seen what other industries can achieve via standardization and personalization. In order to adapt—and ultimately thrive—in this new age, healthcare providers should look to the experiences of outside industries like manufacturing and banking when developing new care plans, data strategies and digital tools.

What are your tips or lessons you’ve discovered on the path to precision medicine? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

To read more about Precision Medicine or other healthcare and imaging trends, please visit the Siemens-Healthineers Insight Center.

Meet the Author

Caitlin Moling is Cassling’s Director of Research and Strategy. Caitlin provides market intelligence analysis with an emphasis on healthcare policy, industry trends and strategic development. Her educational background includes an MBA and a master’s degree in psychology--a combination she has used to carve out more than a decade of experience in consumer insights and market research. Caitlin has worked as an insights consultant for Forrester Research, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Mintel specializing in insurance and healthcare.

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