Less May Be More

by

Personalized Medicine has come to be strongly associated with drug-diagnostic combinations (companion diagnostics).  While this is a very important aspect of personalized medicine, it is not the goal.  The goal of personalized medicine is to find the best possible care for each individual patient so as to maximize the likelihood of the individual achieving his/her personal life goals.  While this may seem obvious, this principle has become increasingly harder to identify in every day medical care.

A variety of different motivations has encouraged the healthcare enterprise to view illnesses, or even everyday complaints as the opportunity – if not obligation – to do something for the patient.  The better approach is to ask: What is the best thing one can do for a patient, including the possibility of doing nothing?

As we develop better drug-diagnostic combinations, this will become increasingly apparent.  Soon we will have the ability (through use of precise molecular diagnostics) to know with reasonable certainty whether there is little or no benefit for a particular individual to pursue a therapy which had historically been the standard of care.

But, are we truly ready to forgo a potential therapy even if such a decision is based on strong scientific data?  Or, will we continue to use a therapy on the off chance it might work?  Our desire to do something has to include the possibility that the best treatment might be no therapy, based on the risks to the patient, the likely benefits, and the life goals of the individual.  In the end, patients want their healthcare providers to help them make the best choice and personalized medicine can be a strong tool to do that.  This will provide the largest benefit for patients as they avoid the risks that come with all therapies when no benefit is realistically to be had.

Dr. Stephen Eck will be moderating a panel discussion on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at the 8th Annual Personalized Medicine Conference in Boston, Massachusetts.  Join the discussion at #PMConf. 

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: