I recently joined Forrester as a healthcare analyst and have felt at home since my first day: I’ve spent my entire professional life working in the industries we serve, and I’ve listened to the rock ‘n’ roll legends that our conference rooms are named after for as long as I can remember. Now — building on my 25 years of experience in pharma, followed by seven years of venture capital healthcare investments — I’m on a mission to help pharmaceutical industry leaders design and execute drug development programs with the help of the latest technologies.
Contributing to multiple development programs and commercial launches in healthcare has taught me the importance of multidisciplinary thinking and teamwork in professional life … and life in general. As Michael Jordan put it, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” Precision medicine (PM) is a great example of a multidisciplinary endeavor in which success is only possible through the collective effort of multiple industries and public institutions; that’s why I chose this fascinating topic for my first Forrester blog.
Precision Medicine Transforms Healthcare
In recent decades, tremendous progress in biomarkers and bioinformatics has vastly expanded doctors’ power to personalize therapy, maximize the effectiveness of treatments, and minimize their side effects, giving rise to PM. With the advent of PM, healthcare has transitioned from empirical, one-size-fits-all care to data-driven, individualized disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. A true disruptor, PM aims to improve patient outcomes, increase healthcare operations’ efficiency, alleviate the financial burden of inefficient therapies, and even mitigate physician burnout. PM catalyzes the transformation of fee-for-service to value-based care models, and it’s a great differentiator for healthcare providers striving for a patient-centric system by its very definition.
Precision Medicine Transitions From Nice-To-Have To Competitive Necessity
The age of PM is upon us and is already impacting healthcare delivery and treatment choices. PM therapeutics accounts for 25% to 40% of all FDA approvals in the past seven years. PM has proven its worth with mounting evidence of improved patient outcomes in oncology, cardiology, endocrinology, and other disease areas. Forrester predicted that PM will be among the top trends for the pharmaceutical industry in 2022. According to a Definitive Healthcare study, however, just one-fifth of acute care organizations have established PM programs. The early adopters of PM, which offers better chances of successful treatment, gain a competitive advantage, as more patients will choose them over providers without these capabilities. They are poised to capture a share of the PM market, predicted to grow globally from $66 billion in 2021 to $140 billion by 2028, 44% of which is in the hospital sector. Healthcare providers of all ranks must speed up PM adoption to stay competitive.
In the quest for PM, providers must overcome the top three challenges:
- Educate physicians on PM. The most frequently cited reason (33%) given by healthcare providers for not practicing PM was simply a lack of sufficient knowledge on the topic. Only 41% of doctors agree that they have enough information to discuss PM with their patients. Most doctors fall into the PM-naive category, as most were educated before the genomics revolution in medicine. Doctors and nurses keen on medical advancements will self-educate to remain abreast of PM. Nevertheless, more structured continuing education, including courses required for medical license maintenance, must contain PM topics such as genomics, diagnostic testing, and targeted therapies.
- Integrate PM into the clinical workflow. Physicians will need more time to translate PM data into the clinical decision at the point of care, which is a challenge in the context of standard clinical workflows. Start with your areas of expertise, and once you have a PM algorithm developed, incorporate it into the clinical workflow to become your standard practice. Multiple platforms are being developed commercially and in house, resulting in electronic health records updated with biomarker and environmental information and augmentation of clinical decision support systems with PM algorithms.
- Develop a business model for PM. Building PM into medical care economics is intricately tied to insurance reimbursement, yet the traditional reimbursement system undercompensates physicians for the time and effort to make an accurate diagnosis, a critical PM element. Furthermore, unless a physician can perform a diagnostic test in the doctor’s office, the physician has no financial incentive to order it. Providers must address these and other economic factors before implementing PM successfully. Fortunately, value-centered PM aligns nicely with the emerging pay-for-performance reimbursement models.
Overcoming these challenges and implementing PM will bring us closer to the paradigm formulated some 2,500 years ago by Hippocrates: Physician, treat the patient, not just a disease.