Public Health

‘Precision medicine’: Where collaboration and competition meet

precision

As a professional observer of healthcare for the last 20 years, the relationship between Adam Smith economics and healthcare research and developments has always fascinated me.

In brief, does the dynamic of competition that drives profit-making innovation propel, or hinder, medical breakthroughs?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) initiative around “precision medicine” – treatment that focuses on the unique genetic code of the individual and not a one-size-fits-all treatment – begs that question.

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The Relationship: Medicine Is Both Art and Science

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The Question: Questioning the value of the annual physical exam for “healthy,” or asymptomatic, adults is nothing new, but the issue assumes greater significance in the current era of limited resources and the growing status of evidence-based care. Last month, The New England Journal of Medicine’s “Perspective” was devoted to the pros and cons of eliminating this time-honored, but poorly evidenced, practice. Before discussing these pieces, it seems only fair to tip my hand and admit I am (empirically, subjectively, limbicly) in favor of the annual check in with one’s PCP – whether one “needs” it, or not. The authors of both articles agree that the lack of standardization in the annual exam makes the epidemiological research weaker, i.e., lack…

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