Precision approach to population health can benefit patients and health systems

New report highlights the potential of precision medicine and precision health to address common diseases across the care pathway. 

The benefits of precision medicine (PM) are becoming increasingly evident in treating conditions like cancer and genetic disease. However, a new report highlights the growing body of evidence for the use of precision health (PH) approaches in supporting disease prevention and patient management. 

PM refers to the use of molecular information, such as genomics, along with phenotypic and health data from patients, to generate care insights to prevent or treat disease. This can improve health outcomes by tailoring treatment to individual patients. 

PH is a broader concept that goes beyond the provision of care. This approach uses population-specific data to provide the right intervention to the right population at the right time. PH can be applied to common chronic conditions, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as well as cancer and infectious diseases such as COVID-19. 

How precision medicine & precision health can help:

  • Cancer: Companion diagnostics, including next-generation sequencing (NGS), provide clinicians with more precise tools for identifying patients likely to benefit from targeted treatments. 
  • Cholesterol: Screening for familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), which is an inherited genetic disorder that causes high cholesterol levels from birth), and using genetic tests to confirm diagnosis, informs tailored patient care and prevents premature cardiovascular events – benefiting individuals and reducing the burden on health systems.
  • Diabetes: The care of people with type 1 diabetes mellitus can be enhanced, specifically through continuous glucose monitoring. This can ease the physical and cognitive burden on people with diabetes, while reducing the cost of managing complications. 
  • Infectious diseases: As the COVID-19 pandemic showed, population-based viral genomic sequencing enables more effective disease surveillance and the development of vaccines that target specific mutations. This brings significant population health benefits, supports health system resilience, and helps to limit the economic impact of pandemics. 

Policy recommendations to enhance adoption of PH and PM

Advances in medical science, technology, data and AI lead to precision approaches that will benefit individuals, health systems and wider society. The report examines the adoption of PH/PM and sets out a series of policy measures to ensure Europe can realise the full potential of this revolution. 

Key recommendations include:

  • Prioritising the availability of, and investment in, PH/PM technologies, such as genomic sequencing and targeted therapies.
  • Data sharing and collaboration.
  • Education and training of healthcare providers on PH/PM approaches. 
  • Ensuring equal access to PH/PM approaches. 
  • Embracing patient-centered care plans. 
  • Building infrastructure and raising awareness of precision health. 

‘Faced with an ageing population, an increase in chronic disease prevalence, and the impact of a pandemic, we must embrace precision approaches that focus on prevention, diagnosis, treatment strategies, and patient management techniques,’ says Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen, CEO of Novo Nordisk and EFPIA President. 

‘Europe has an opportunity to establish itself as a leader in the application of precision health/precision medicine to address the complex healthcare requirements of populations at large. This report provides concrete measures to help Europe to elevate the standard of healthcare delivery and achieve substantial improvements in the health outcomes of its citizens.’