Personalized Medicine: Hi-Tech, Hi-Touch, Maximum Engagement
(Or, How to Make Your Genes Fit Better, and Other [R]E-volutionary Matters)
Covering a wide range of topics, HealthMart08, convened by the Massachusetts Health Data Consortium, was an exciting and informative conference, looking from different angles at the transformative potential of new technologies, while trying to address the tremendous shortages in capital and clinicians that plague us here and throughout the country.
Presentations and panels on personal genomics (that panel moderated by HCFA's Lisa Fenichel), concierge medicine, personally-controlled health records, and telemedicine, along with four breakout sessions, highlighted a strong desire by some patients and providers for a more customized healthcare experience.
The contradictions underlying the push for such innovations -- mandating use of electronic health records and developing a wide range of genetic tests when most physicians are still using paper and genetic tests are often not covered but could be used by insurance companies, for example -- will clearly have to be wrestled with.
But, in spite of these concerns and the crises that we are facing in healthcare and elsewhere in this country, the mood was unmistakably -- if cautiously -- optimistic. Let's hope this optimism is borne out by a future reality that incorporates the best features of these new technologies, which are then used to improve treatment and not discriminate, and that for consumers, access to and privacy, security, and control of health information become both an expectation and a right.
For more information on the conference, visit the Mass Health Data Consortium's website.