Effective treatment has been a common goal for physicians and practitioners over the centuries. They have been zeroing in on treatment methods that have the most impact and accuracy even without technology by their side. Due to technological advancements like digital health records, super-computing, big data analytics and genetic testing, healthcare technology experts are working on precision medicine.

Technologies like precision medicine can help doctors estimate risks, choose treatments or assess responses to specific treatments. Diseases that have eluded potent treatments are now being tackled using precision medicine.  

Genomics and Precision Medicine

One of the areas that precision medicine is making considerable progress is cancer treatment as the one-size fits all approach isn’t gaining ground. DNA sequencing is being used to identify genetic mutations that cause certain cancers and biomarkers that predict cancer risks are now a reality. Genomic data can enable specialists to figure out patterns using the human genetic code. Genetic testing is also faster and inexpensive, which means researchers have easier access to huge volumes of data from diverse patient groups. This data, in addition to pharmaceutical, clinical and socioeconomic information and analytics can enable researchers to identify patterns in treatments that render them effective and also spot genetic variations that correspond with failure or success.  

Tech, Big Data, and Social Media Data

Big data enabled systems are designed to collect more granular data and apply intricate machine learning techniques. This enables them to be accurate and precise when tailoring treatments and dosages for patients. Many physicians and practitioners have already begun using early precision medicine systems to treat their patients. Micro-personalizing treatment for patients is now a reality thanks to big data-driven analytics and smart technology. Mobile technology in healthcare provides treatment for patients at their convenience and can minutely monitor the progress of each patient and their recovery. This has further enabled quicker recovery and higher patient engagement.

Big data can help advance precision medicine’s promise of ‘the Right Therapy, to the Right Person, at the Right Time’. IT and big data players can collaborate with government-funded projects to bring about major business transformations. IT platforms can help bring precision medicine and healthcare to the bedside for patients. Big data can also aid the repurposing of predominant drugs for specific treatments and sensing, capturing and forecasting epidemics or outbreaks. However, risks like data privacy, security, governance and ownership have to be managed skillfully while using big data technologies.

Social Media Data also has the potential to further precision methods for treatment through data mining (digital phenotyping) to figure out the attitudes, behaviours and health outcomes of populations. They may, in the future, aid the transmission of targeted and personalized behaviour-modification interventions to improve health. This is almost like personalized advertising but is not without risks like the backlash from consumers and a perceived threat to user autonomy. Although promising, social media data must be used with caution when utilized for precision treatments.

Technology, data and AI are still in a nascent stage and are not sophisticated enough to replicate the work of doctors to suggest precision treatments. For instance, if AIs are used, they may face problems in recommending the best treatments due to variations in electronic health record (EHR) platforms and issues with accessing all the information. With vast amounts of incoming and outgoing data, technologies like AI, deep learning machine, big data may have difficulty in analysing them in a short span of time. So technology, data, and AI come with many challenges and if used prematurely in precision medicine, are bound to have some shortcomings.