Perhaps the most important step I took was having my genome sequenced. I’m lucky to be one of the 47,000 people on the planet to have this raw data on all 6 billion letters of my DNA. In my case, my physician said it changed everything we knew about my diseases and course of treatment—which had been wrong for two decades. The data they were able to uncover paved the way for a kidney transplant I was never supposed to have and a life I was never supposed to live.
Since genome sequencing saved his life, Dishman has become an advocate for big data innovations that allow doctors to personalize medicine. If genome sequencing and similar data collection innovations become cheap enough to be widely affordable (and our experiences with other medical and communication tech suggest they will), then we have a health care revolution in the making. There will still be enough technical and human failure in the system to frustrate those who dream of perfect health care efficiency, but there will be far, far less waste than currently exists. Diagnostics will become much more accurate, and our ability to predict and treat medical conditions before they progress to more costly stages will massively improve.When you join a hugely impactful innovation like genome sequencing to the everyday accumulation of small-bore developments, you start to get a picture of how radically different tomorrow’s health care system could be. Microbots that can preform minimally invasive eye surgery and serious new applications for silver are just two recent examples of the kindling that will help light a fire under our health care professionals.But it’s not all up to the scientists and tech geeks who discover or invent this stuff. It’s also important that we pursue policy that facilitates, not frustrates, widespread use of personalized medicine while protecting patient privacy. If we can do that, we might soon put our health care crisis behind us.[Hospital technology image courtesy of Shutterstock]