Most physicians will argue all medicine is personal, but until now, they have lacked the patient-level, molecular level diagnostic data to heal with precise interventions, and where necessary, iterate on disease management from an informed perspective. Technology has finally enabled physicians to see true patient-to-patient differences based on objective biochemical measures, not symptoms and other subjective information. Patient-specific clinical decision tools and an expansion in intervention options, are enabling a degree of precision in treating the cause of complex disease, not just symptoms.
Precision medicine is being driven and enabled by technological convergence. Computing and sequencing technology have been driving the cost per megabase of DNA sequencing downward at a rate much faster than Moore’s law, and we are approaching the $1,000 genome. Cloud computing, clinically annotated specimen collections, and publically supported data repositories have enabled the power of the crowd to decipher meaning from the rapid expanding universe of genetic information, enabling rapid increases in the number of FDA approved companion diagnostics and nucleic acid based tests to come to market. Advances in medical imaging technologies have allowed us to see things that are the small, see things that moving, and even see molecular interactions, creating a parallel universe of expanding rich information content from medical images. The medical research community has begun to build repository infrastructure for the clinically annotated medical imaging data our clinical research community is producing. Through the power of the cloud, and the crowd, scientists can now move between medical image information and genetic information, on a given clinical case, or in a cohort of similar cases, to more thoroughly query subtle but important differences in disease among patients that was never possible before. Private sector investments in machine learning, artificial intelligence tools, and cognitive computing are rapidly accelerating productive use of -omic, image, and even remotely collected, real-time continuous health information. The tools of precision medicine have finally broken a human’s intellectual speed limit in seeing patterns in such complex information sets and computing is generating insights.