Predictive Medicine & 'Open' Health IT Systems

The coming decades will see a continued shift from a focus on contemporary medicine practices to preventive medicine, predictive medicine, and regenerative medicine.

Predictive medicine is the emerging field of medicine that entails predicting the probability of disease and taking proactive steps to either prevent the disease altogether or significantly decrease its impact upon the patient. This proactive stance involves the use of new tools in bio-science to identify potential health risks, predict potential consequences, track treatment provided, measure progress, and report on health outcomes.

The following are examples of just a few types of predictive medical testing already in place that are being conducted by healthcare professionals:

·      Preconception testing
·      Prenatal testing
·      Diagnostic testing
·      Carrier testing
·      Health Risk Assessments
·      Prognostic modeling

The health information technology (IT) industry is already in the process of developing the first generation of predictive health IT systems.  These new systems gather and analyze a range of information from electronic health record (EHR) systems, various medical tests, health assessment instruments, genomic information systems, and other sources. A personalized predictive health profile is then generated to assist patients and their healthcare providers work together to improve an individual's health and help prevent the onset of certain diseases whenever possible.

Many of these new, cutting edge predictive health IT tools are coming out of the collaborative, 'open source' health IT community. Check out the following links to a few of the emerging predictive health IT projects, open source tools, organizations, and activities:

Information on other open source EHR, PHR and Genomic information systems can be found on the COSI Open Health or the Open Health News (OHN) web sites.

Right now the health IT industry is focused on the acquisition, development, and deployment of Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems, Health Information Exchange (HIE) networks, and Personal Health Records (PHR). But coming rapidly down the pike are  next generation Genomic Information and Predictive Medicine modules that will be integrated into future EHR systems. Here are some key management observations and recommendations to consider:

  • Predictive medicine and associated predictive health IT solutions offer great potential to improve care, reduce costs, and prevent disease.
  • Predictive medicine will require a fundamental realignment of many health care delivery processes. Individuals must be trained to take greater responsibility for their personal health.
  • Collaboration and sharing of 'open' solutions will lead to continuous innovation  and rapid advancements in the field of predictive medicine in the coming decades.

Finally, according to a recent national survey conducted by researchers at Tufts Medical Center, consumers placed a high value on information to predict their future health and indicated they were willing to pay for it.

Predictive healthcare is becoming a reality. Please share with us any new advances in predictive health IT systems that you know about.