That said, it might not necessarily feel like it. Firstly, there’s a swathe of opinion saying healthcare is not ready for genomics, then there’s the emotionally-charged debates about the ethics of changing someone’s DNA.
More practically, genomics - the study of our genetic code- is also primarily restricted to early-adopters, and while it’s picking up quickly, on a disease-by-disease basis, if it is to become a truly mainstream option, it will need to be tied into the everyday business of healthcare: based on integrated patient data, embedded into clinical pathways, supported by real-world evidence and reimbursement models.
Converting integrated imaging, pathology and genomic data into clinically actionable information is a daunting task. That includes electronic medical record systems that aren’t designed to deal with rich information, such as DNA, images and pathology, and the complexity of decoding and annotating the genomic information. There is also the challenge of physicians who would need further genetic training, and ensuring they can keep up with the pace of publications of clinical research with genomic components – currently thousands each week in cancer alone.
Though challenging, these barriers are not insurmountable and they are already being tackled by initiatives in advanced diagnostic centers around the world. With today’s digital and connected technologies we have great opportunities to translate genomics into widely applicable validated clinical practice.
Philips is contributing to the work by bringing genomic data, integrated with other modalities such as imaging, electronic medical records and digital pathology, into our HealthSuite digital platform. Integrating and interpreting genomic data in the clinical environment requires particular handling to provide confidence in the results, such as being able to reproduce an analysis from the past (reproducibility), and detail the particular steps in finding an answer (traceability).