ONC Blog: Health IT Advances Precision Medicine

“Precision medicine creates treatment and prevention strategies that meet patient needs by considering individual variability in their genome, environment, and lifestyle. While precision medicine can revolutionize health care, it requires access to an unprecedented volume and variety of data, and an infrastructure that rapidly brings new discoveries to bear.  Recently, we published an article in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association that describes health IT’s vital role in precision medicine based on key insights from a series of ONC projects supporting the Precision Medicine Initiative.”

“Four key health IT needs for precision medicine are:

  1. Determining requirements for data
  2. Building robust infrastructure
  3. Integrating precision medicine into clinical care
  4. Developing relevant policies”

“Data Requirements

Electronic health data are widely available thanks to the prevalence of health IT, but not all data are standardized or include the metadata needed for precision medicine. To increase the availability of rich data sets, ONC’s projects developed methodologies for collecting and exchanging diverse data types using standardized APIs.”

“These projects also highlighted data quality issues such as accuracy, consistency, completeness, and usefulness. In particular, these projects highlighted a trade–off between richness of data and simplicity of standards.”

“Standardizing data generally results in improved data quality and consistency, but the use of data standards does not always result in data standardization due to inconsistent implementation of current standards and the use of proprietary standards, creating a constant need for harmonization.”

“Robust Infrastructure

Precision medicine requires robust health IT infrastructure and additional functionality may be needed to capture, access, and share data in an interoperable manner.”

“The projects focused on building functionality that allowed participants to capture data from outside clinical care, access data from other information systems, and advance interoperability through the use of standardized functions.”

“Projects revealed that testing and validation activities are important for successfully implementing new functionality, but these activities can often be resource-intensive. The projects also revealed other infrastructure considerations and challenges. For example, firewalls impeded access to data sources such as devices that resided outside the firewall, and some sites did not have access to adequate data storage and management resources…” Read the full article here.

Source: Health IT Advances Precision Medicine — By Kevin Chaney, MGS; Teresa Zayas Cabán, PhD; Courtney C. Rogers, MPH; Joshua C. Denny MD, MS and Jon White, April 20, 2021. ONC.

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