More and more, the healthcare industry is shifting to meet the discreet needs of specific patients. From value-based delivery to digital health tools and more, patients are advocating for their health and driving change.

A topic of growing popularity in the industry is that of precision health: what it means for patients and providers, and how its emergence will impact the sector.

What is Precision Health?

Precision health, also referenced as precision medicine and personalized medicine, is defined by Stanford Medicine as “tailoring health care to the unique biology and life circumstances of each individual, with an emphasis on catching disease before it strikes.”

Precision health is designed for the individual, evaluating how their genes, behaviors and environment may affect their health. Implementing such an approach may take a patient’s social determinants of health (SDOH) into account and look at their family history before treatment. It also emphasizes preventative measures and integrating digital tools such as sleep trackers and monitoring systems for patients to implement outside of the doctor’s office.

The Advantages of Precision Health

Unlike a one-size-fits-all model, precision health focuses on treating a patient’s individual health needs, ensuring they receive the right care based on their unique makeup and lifestyle factors.

The primary advantage of precision health is its focus on prevention. The CDC provides examples such as newborn screenings, which can thwart complications, and medical options to prevent disease in people with inherited conditions.

This shift toward prevention is key. Certain genes predispose individuals to a higher likelihood of developing conditions such as heart disease and breast cancer. Earlier testing for patients with medical history can catch diseases before they become life threatening.

Other leading benefits of the precision health model include improved disease detection, greater prescription efficacy, halting disease progression and predicting disease susceptibility.

Recent Wins for Precision Health

Precision health is not a new concept since it’s broader introduction a few years ago, but many companies, health systems and practitioners are still developing a path forward for incorporating the approach. Because the success of precision health relies heavily on innovative diagnostics, test and tools, digital health companies are leading the way toward expanding the model.

Recently, GE Healthcare announced it had developed an intelligence platform to support organizations on the path to precision health by enabling more than 50 healthcare applications and medical artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms.

New AI research out of Mount Sinai has also been found to accurately identify early-stage Parkinson’s disease in living patients, reports Fierce Healthcare.

In April, Golden Valley Memorial Healthcare (GVMH) partnered with electronic health record company MEDITECH to utilize genomics in patient care, allowing the provider to tailor care plans to the patient’s genetic profile.

As the healthcare sector continues to recover from the pandemic, research indicates people are more engaged regarding their health than ever before. A CVS Health study reported that 77% of people said the COVID-19 pandemic has led them to pay more attention to their health. As patients continue to become more attuned with their health, the demand for precision health services will also continue to rise.