Innovations in Medicine June 1st, 2010
The past decade has really shown us some incredible feats in the field of medicine. Ever since the complete mapping of the human genome, in 2003, there have been some remarkable changes in the way medicine is practiced. This was the first time in history that human beings have had the code to their make-up resting at their fingertips. With such extensive knowledge of the human genome, it sparked a revolution of a new type of medicine that is personally tailored to each individual’s genetic code.
Generally speaking, the idea of personalized medicine will create a genetic profile for every patient that a doctor has. From this genetic profile, which will also include the history of illnesses in the family, doctors will be able to prescribe different treatments for different patients depending on how their body reacts with the treatments. Personalized medicine could help to diagnose and treat hereditary problems that an individual may have, before this person even realizes the problem exists. With extreme benefits such as this, many people may wonder why this is not already a common medical practice.
The reality is that personalized medicine is beginning to become a lot more common, but there are still a lot of little things that need to be tweaked in our current system to make personalized medicine a practical venture. Despite the changes that need to be made, many hospitals and other medical organizations are beginning to use personalized medicine to treat their patients. Medical schools are also beginning to offer training in medical practice that is based around genomics. So with more and more of the focus being centered around the genetic make-up of an individual, why is personalized medicine not more mainstream? The answer to this question lies in the hands and the minds of investors.
The main belief with personalized medicine is that it will not only save many lives by having the ability to treat illnesses before they become too severe, but it will also help to save people and insurance companies money. By using preventative medicine, expensive costs associated with treating terminal illnesses such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, etc. will be greatly reduced and possibly even eliminated. With such a high degree of benefits it is amazing to think that this medical practice has not already begun to become a significant part of the medical world, but in the eyes of investors there is a catch to this utopian idea of personalized diagnosis’ and treatments for every individual.
The reality is that patients and doctors alike would like to make personalized medicine a more common practice because there is a chance to save and improve people’s lives. The real decision lies in the hands of investors. One of the difficulties that is slowing down the process of improving medical practices is the “money” issue. From a business standpoint it is very difficult for investors to determine which of the tests actually saves money. Another problem with personalized medicine is that there is a belief that everybody is going to want early stage testing for every disease, which in reality is going to end up costing people and insurance companies a lot more than they bargained for. For example, if every male in the United States wanted an early stage test for prostate cancer, the costs associated with providing all of these tests would greatly outweigh the costs associated with providing the few people who do have the disease, with early preventative treatment. Another huge problem associated with personalized medicine has to do with the future training of doctors. How can there be standard medical protocols to follow if every patient needs a personalized diagnosis and treatment?
Although there are many hurdles that still need to be overcome, with time and careful planning, personalized medical practices will be the future of medicine. There are just too many benefits associated with increasing savings in regards to medical procedures, and saving the lives of many Americans who may not know that they are at risk. As time passes by, we will start to see more medical organizations begin to adopt the methods of personalized medicine. As companies begin to set standards for which tests are beneficial for different populations of people, this form medicine will begin to become very popular. Once standards are set for the optimum results, insurance companies and individuals themselves will begin to see huge reductions in their medical costs associated with long term hereditary diseases.
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