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HHS Issues Second Report on Personalized Health Care

Armen Hareyan's picture

HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt today released the second report from his Initiative on Personalized Health Care, examining the potential for new findings in genetics and other molecular-level medicine to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of health care.

The report, "Personalized Health Care: Pioneers, Partnerships, Progress," includes reports from 10 institutions where personalized health care techniques are beginning to be used. It also includes seven commissioned papers examining the opportunities and challenges for personalized health care from the perspectives of different stakeholders in the health care sector.

"These sample case studies reflect a broad scope of approaches that are already being tried, as well as partnerships for achieving higher levels of effectiveness and personalization in health care," Secretary Leavitt writes in a "Prologue" chapter in the report.

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Personalized health care envisions medical care that is increasingly differentiated between patients based on variations in their individual biology. For example, differences in metabolism or other factors cause a given prescription medication to work well with some individuals, but not others. By measuring such individual variations in patients before prescribing, drugs could be used more safely, effectively and at lower cost.

Genetic and molecular medicine should also help spot diseases before symptoms appear, enabling treatments to delay or preempt the disease and avoid costly late-stage treatments. Personal genomic profiles may also enable patients to learn their particular predisposition to disease and take more effective disease prevention steps.

Secretary Leavitt says in the report that the potential for personalized health care techniques to improve health and increase value in health care make personalized health care a factor that should be targeted as part of any plan to reform the nation's health care system. In addition, current models of paying for health care, which reward volume of care over value or quality, may hinder promising new avenues that would avoid expensive late-stage treatments or prevent disease.

Secretary Leavitt launched his special Initiative on Personalized Health Care in 2006. The report is available at www.hhs.gov/myhealthcare.