As the precision medicine movement gains speed in healthcare, Philadelphia-based Penn Medicine is looking to take advantage of all it has to offer. Its efforts have undoubtedly been noteworthy. In January 2016, it founded the Penn Center for Precision Medicine, which focuses on precision medicine development and implementation efforts. The center has its own PCPM Accelerator Fund, which supports projects that test unique approaches to how precision medicine impacts patient care.
In a phone interview, Penn Medicine senior vice president and CIO Michael Restuccia discussed the health system’s approach to the topic. One key issue, he said, is getting the proper structure in place.
“I think most academic medical centers that focus on precision medicine are challenged with their overall organizational structure,” Restuccia said. Penn Medicine avoided that pitfall by centralizing the leadership of its medical school and health system.
Another crucial step involves moving to a shared system, which makes it easier to centrally manage information.
“Getting the entire institution to move to a common platform allows you to facilitate and share data in a more appropriate manner, aggregate that data more effectively and secure that data in a more efficient way,” Restuccia noted.
Indeed, installing technology can be highly advantageous to organizations looking at precision medicine efforts. Because such initiatives involve working with a high number of data sets, tech is the answer to a smoother process.
“Technology accelerates data management and data analysis. It also accelerates data integration from the research side back into the electronic record,” he said. “If you had to do it by hand, it would take decades.”
But can IT ever hinder precision medicine advancements? Not really, according to Restuccia. The only downside to tech is from an expectation perspective. Rollouts can take a lengthy amount of time and can be costly from a financial perspective.
Restuccia believes Penn Medicine is already well-positioned to succeed in its precision medicine endeavors. The system’s research data warehouse, PennOmics, holds everything from registry data to clinical trials data. Additionally, it is now deployed on a common EMR system — called PennChart — across the inpatient, ambulatory and home care settings. The data in PennChart can be shared with caregivers from any Penn Medicine location.
“Ultimately, that’s what we mean when we talk about precision medicine,” Restuccia said. “It’s finding those lessons learned in research and being more proactive in the care provided to each patient.”
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