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The Ultimate Patient-Centric Solution

June 21, 2011

Personalized Medicine is the ultimate in patient-centric solutions.

Emerging personalized services can help guide treatment not only on efficacy, but also on likely side effect profiles, helping physicians select therapies to maximize the patient experience and shape that experience to patient preferences and tolerance levels.  My personal story exemplifies these possibilities.

I have experienced the promise of personalized medicine first hand. As a liver transplant recipient, I have to be constantly monitored to ensure that my body is not rejecting the transplanted organ nor leaving me open to life-threatening infections. Traditionally, this is done with painful and invasive liver biopsies as well as blood testing.

Recently, a new blood analysis-test was developed that can assess my immune system’s individualized response to the immunosuppressive medications I must take.  This test gives unique information about my immune system and the degree to which I am at risk for rejecting my organ or to vulnerable to infections. Using this information, my physician can determine the appropriate combination and dosing for my immunosuppressive medications.

 Although this test is FDA-cleared, current policy does not provide a level of reimbursement that accurately reflects the value of this new technology. Without proper funding and support, there is a strong risk that the test, and others like it, will be removed from the market.

If this happens, we will be taking a huge—and costly—step backward in patient care. Removing this test from the market would mean a return to invasive and expensive liver biopsies and a trial-and-error approach to managing my immunosuppressive medications. This would not only put me at significantly increased risk of hospitalization and organ rejection or retransplantation, but would also incur a much greater expense to the health care system. All these things are easily avoidable through the use of a personalized medicine test, but require its value-based reimbursement.

The patient experience is often marred by pain, fear, and confusion, particularly in the face of a life-threatening condition.  Personalized medicine can provide answers. As my experience shows, meaningful information to guide treatment and prevent adverse events can, indeed, be the best medicine.

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