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Precision-based medicine improves outcomes and drives down costs

June 14, 2017
Rad Oncology
From the June 2017 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Insurers may be more apt to approve precision medicine techniques when considering a cost-benefit analysis. For cancer patients, expenses will drop as they receive targeted medication within days of diagnosis, and are able to skip more toxic treatments that result in hospitalization, intravenous lines, complications of those, steroids and other medication to lessen side effects and nursing. For example, a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers indicates that a genetic test on breast cancer patients could save an estimated $1,900 per patient because it can reduce chemotherapy use between 20 and 35 percent. Likewise, increased diagnostic accuracy for cancer screenings will reduce the costs and morbidity associated with false positive tests.

In hospitals, where insurance reimbursement rates depend upon patient experience and satisfaction, and expenditures are always closely monitored, precision medicine is already improving outcomes. In one study, precision medicine was shown to reduce readmissions by 52 percent, reduce visits to the emergency department by 42 percent and decrease deaths by 85 percent. Hospitals have a responsibility to their patients (and shareholders) to proactively promote new advancements in medicine. They should utilize their considerable clout to support research and development companies during FDA trials to ensure their physicians have access to the latest precision therapies once approved.

With the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act, precision medicine has received the backing of the U.S. government. The bill, which provides $4.8 billion in funding to initiatives aimed at matching patients to treatments based on their genes, signals a shift toward creating new health care standards. With the ability to fund more genetic sequencing, it is my hope that we can develop new treatment and diagnostic approaches for a wide range of cancers.

About the author:
Paul Crowe is chairman and CEO of Nuview Life Sciences. Crowe is an experienced health care executive who, over the past 40 years, participated in the commercialization of new diagnostic imaging technologies such as diagnostic ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography (PET). These technologies provided physicians with better tools to more effectively diagnose, and subsequently treat, chronic human diseases, improved patient outcomes and lowered health care costs.

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