On February 25th President Obama at the White House celebrated the one year anniversary of his announcement of the Precision Medicine Initiative. The Initiative, first announced in the President’s State of the Union Address last year, initially invested $215 million in this research approach.
Most medical treatments are designed to treat the average patient. This broad approach fails to account for the differences in genetics, physiology, environments, and lifestyles that greatly impact the effectiveness of therapies. Precision medicine works to overcome these shortcomings by conducting research into the efficacy of the available treatments in different patients using these and additional factors.
Precision medicine research requires patient information that up until recently was locked up in paper records that proved too difficult and expensive to extract. With passage of the HITECH act facilitating the deployment of electronic medical records (EMRs), this valuable patient information is now digitized and available for use by researchers.
Unfortunately like paper records, the failure to foster true interoperability as part of the Meaningful Use criteria used to guide EMR implementations left the industry with valuable data locked up in proprietary formats and incompatible data definitions.