Precision medicineSince the turn of the century, global achievements in scientific research have enabled us to realise a new era of healthcare delivery and treatment. Diseases are becoming better understood, even at their most detailed level, which has allowed scientists to develop new drugs, therapies and preventative techniques to combat problems in very specific ways. A new form of healthcare delivery, one that is determined by a patient’s genetic and personal characteristics, has become possible.

Precision Medicine (PM) is defined as: “the tailoring of medical treatment to the individual characteristics of each patient to classify individuals into subpopulations that differ in their susceptibility to a particular disease or their response to a specific treatment… [allowing] preventative or therapeutic interventions [to] be concentrated on those who will benefit, sparing expense and side effects for those who will not”.

As this definition suggests, the power of PM lies in its opportunity to guide healthcare decisions toward the most effective prevention of disease or treatment for a given patient, improving care quality while reducing unnecessary diagnostic testing and therapies. When applied at the population level, PM holds immense promise for public health, particularly in disease prevention and risk assessment.

Despite recent breakthroughs and PM’s growing momentum, significant challenges and barriers remain to its broad implementation and integration in medical practice globally. For PM’s potential to be fully realised, policymakers will need to address these critical challenges. With the input of international PM experts, the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) Precision Medicine Forum explores the complexity of these challenges, but also presents examples of successful projects that have overcome the barriers to integrate PM.

Report focus

The new report ‘Precision Medicine: A global action plan for impact’ emphasises the need for stakeholder groups across sectors and countries to collaborate and create an environment that is conducive to PM. We also identify the challenges in four key action areas that need to be addressed to fully enable PM:

  • Patient and public engagement
  • Evidence generation
  • Implementation
  • Data ownership, privacy and sharing

Report insights 

This report establishes a policy case for PM and an action plan that can be used by policymakers worldwide. It recommends strategic directions for developing a policy agenda that seeks to better integrate PM into medical practice, working toward the ultimate goals of improving health while achieving quality and cost-effective care delivery. Moreover, the report emphasises that it is important to create an international network or organisations to help fulfil a unified vision for the application and integration of PM into medical frameworks worldwide.

Read the full report here.

Read all the WISH forum reports here.

Forum Chair: Dr. Victor J. Dzau, President, National Academy of Medicine (NAM)

Dr Victor Dzau

Dr. Victor J. Dzau is the President of the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), formerly the Institute of Medicine (IOM). In addition, he serves as Chair of the IOM Division Committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Dr. Dzau is Chancellor Emeritus and James B. Duke Professor of Medicine at Duke University and the past President and CEO of the Duke University Health System. Previously, Dr. Dzau was the Hersey Professor of Theory and Practice of Medicine and Chairman of Medicine at Harvard Medical School’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, as well as Chairman of the Department of Medicine at Stanford University. Dr. Dzau has made a significant impact on medicine through his seminal research in cardiovascular medicine and genetics and his leadership in health care innovation. As one of the world’s preeminent health leaders, Dr. Dzau advises governments, corporations, and universities worldwide.