Sunday, October 19, 2008

Back to the Future, Forward to the Future

Personalized Medicine: Hi-Tech, Hi-Touch, Maximum Engagement. That was the title of the conference - hosted by The Massachusetts Health Data Consortium - which I attended on Friday.

One of the topics was Concierge Medicine which most certainly falls into the hi-touch category - house calls, same day visits, doctors on call for their own patients. Personalized medicine that is reminiscent of another era, of times gone by. Albeit, as pointed out by one audience member, Concierge Medicine is limited to those who can afford to pay a significant out-of-pocket fee.

Then we heard about Personal Genomics. Definitely hi-tech and yet how much more personal can you get than having full knowledge of your own genes? A different kind of personal, however. One of the speakers pointed out with optimistic excitement that the combination of genetic test results and electronic health records means that doctors don't have to see patients in order to diagnose and treat them.

Perhaps we need to go back to the future where face-to-face patient-doctor relationships can thrive and couple that with the forward to the future promise of genomics. I’m encouraged by the possibility that this allows for a shift away from reactive medicine to early detection, and better yet, preventive medicine.

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