Personalized medicine and the backlash on public health

Emma Horowitz, Staff Writer

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The concept of health exists as a socially constructed term, ever-changing with the times. Previous definitions of health included religious and spiritual wellness and then evolved into a disease-based term.

Now health is considered not just the absence of disease, but rather the state of living in complete wellness.

With the increase of technological advancements and a changing definition of health to include holistic and individualized medicine, we appear to be entering a new healthcare movement of personalized and preventative care.

This personalized approach focuses on patient’s genetic and lifestyle components in order to determine the best possible course of treatment.

This definition of personalized medicine relates to preventative care because it focuses on gaining genetic and environmental information on individuals who will allow physicians to guide treatment and advise on ways to decrease susceptibility.

However, the lack of equal access to healthcare in our nation proves to be a major issue, as those who are thoroughly covered will be able to receive the best personalized care, and those who do not have access will not be as healthy.

In order to combat the issues of accessibility, structural reform in relation to insurance companies’ coverage and visit schedules must occur.

It’s easy for the novel medicine that will change lives to be looked at with a definitive lens, but the truth is that the health administration aspects pose devastating dilemmas.

Personalized medicine is desperately expensive and ethically unsound.

This poses an unfortunate threat for those who are underinsured in our nation, because insurance companies will likely not cover this type of care. With that, there is a serious health threat that comes with introducing personalized medicine to American healthcare — a gap in health between those who are well-insured versus those who are under or uninsured will undoubtedly occur.

It’s unfortunate that something so exciting has to be looked at so critically, but if we don’t consider the managerial aspects of public health alongside medical innovation, I’m afraid just as much harm may come from the good.

Regardless, steps can be taken to prevent these issues from occurring and permit for more life-saving personalized medicine cases to make the news.

These steps include insurance companies promoting in-depth preventative care, as that will allow for personalized medicine to be covered.

Separately, an increased focus on primary care will allow for patients to experience the total benefits of personalized medicine.

The future of medicine is exciting — innovations ring through the headlines on a daily basis.

Hopefully, the politics of managerial healthcare will move through quickly so that health won’t be a concept but rather a simple fact of daily living.

As we learn more about health care treatment and expand the tools availble to our doctors, hopefully we can expand the number of people privy to these things.

For many, the urge to make medicine cheaper and more accessible is incredibly urgent. We need to act.