With news of Angelina Jolie's preventative double mastectomy, breast cancer has been the most talked about topic in healthcare of late. Ms. Jolie’s courageous decision highlights exactly how far early detection has come, but it also highlights some of the difficult decisions that arise for patients as technological advances are made and more preventative measures become possible.
The use of technology across the healthcare spectrum continues to accelerate, in part due to health care plans and providers preparing for the Obama adminstration’s Affordable Care Act, scheduled to go into full effect in January 2014. These technological advancements enable patients to become more informed and more aware of preventative measures they can seek. In Ms. Jolie’s case, she opted to be tested to see if she was a carrier of the BRCA1 gene. When her test came back positive, Ms. Jolie took action.
Mining data to make informed decisions about healthcare is becoming more commonplace, of course. About 25% of U.S. hospitals use some form of data analytics to mine traditional databases to learn more about past treatments and about how future treatments can be improved.
Technology is becoming empowering for consumers on a personal level. By 2017, research2guidance forecasts that 50% of mobile users will have downloaded mobile health apps.
Up to 10,000 people will have sequencing performed on them in reference to 83 specific genes, with another 50,000 to 80,000 patients getting more general genotypes. New brands such as 23andme, the personalized genomics startup founded by Anne Wojcicki, wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, are bringing down the cost of DNA testing and spearheading the “quantified self” movement.
The resulting data will improve genetic risk assessment, disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment, and can be used to develop genomic-based medicines. Technology, more informed patients and preventive medicine. Welcome to the new world of health.
Barry Silverstein is a Senior Director at InterbrandHealth. He is based in New York.