NIH to Bring Precision Medicine Data Collection to Patient Homes

Jennifer Bresnick | HealthIT Analytics | April 6, 2017

The NIH is partnering with a mobile specimen collection company to expand the reach of the Precision Medicine Initiative's All of Us patient cohort.

Thousands of volunteers for the All of Us precision medicine cohort won’t even have to leave the comfort of their living rooms when contributing data to the project thanks to a new NIH collaboration with mobile medical service EMSI. The All of Us program, formally known as the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) Cohort, aims to collect biosamples from at least one million patients to fuel big data analytics and personalized medicine research.

While a National Institutes of Health survey from 2016 indicated that patients are generally very interested in contributing genetic, clinical, and environmental data to one of the nation’s most ambitious research projects, collecting data from patients at scale is a significant logistical and technical challenge. The NIH is looking to help solve the puzzle by enlisting the help of EMSI, which provides in-home phlebotomy and specimen collection services.

The strategy may bring two key benefits: increasing the convenience factor for contributors and reaching patient populations that may be homebound due to illness, those who lack access to transportation, or individuals who maintain only infrequent contact with the healthcare system. The 2016 survey found that some patient groups, including older and rural individuals, would likely be more difficult to engage than those in urban areas...