Researchers suggest personalized medicine will likely appear in clinical practices via complex algorithms, digital health apps and by conducting genetic testing
One of the issues that makes health and wellness extremely complex is that recommendations for care are often provided based on limited information without personalized medicine insights.
For example, if you have a chiropractic patient who is experiencing lower levels of back pain, you may recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever. However, the amount of medication the patient is to take, per the instructions on the bottle, is typically based on their age. If the patient is a minor, weight may be a factor to consider as well.
Personalized medicine: not all patients are the same
The problem is, not all patients react the same to pain medications. Some only need a little for relief whereas others might need a higher (yet still safe) dosage to feel the same effects.
The same is true with supplements. Dosage recommendations for over-the-counter supplements are generally provided more so as guidelines for what is safe and acceptable use versus making a suggestion that is best for that individual patient.
This is why many health care professionals are now turning to DNA testing, enabling them to offer their patients more personalized health-based prevention and treatment options. This is commonly referred to as precision or personalized medicine.
Personalized medicine explained
The U.S. National Library of Medicine shares that precision or personalized medicine is “an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle for each person.”
Additionally, this newer approach allows both doctors and researchers to better predict which prevention and treatment strategies will work for a specific individual as opposed to offering a one-size-fits-all recommendation that may or may not provide results.
Two precision medicine variables — environment and lifestyle factors — can be obtained by simply talking to patients and asking questions. Inquire about the cleanliness of their home and work spaces. Strive to learn more about their stress, anxiety, and the behaviors they engage in regularly that could either promote or detract from their health.
The other part of the wellness equation involves gaining a better idea of how patients will likely respond to various health and wellness strategies, whether preventive or treatment based. This begins with understanding more about their genetic makeup, of which DNA testing can provide some valuable information.
The value of DNA testing
The Harvard School of Public Health explains that DNA testing has helped advance public health by teaching us more about how our biology impacts our risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other medical conditions.
DNA testing can also provide greater insight as to how patients’ genes can influence how well they are able to use specific vitamins and minerals. For example, a May 2018 article published in the Journal of Cellular Physiology speaks of the ways in which genetic variants and alterations can impact the body’s ability to metabolize, transport, and bind with vitamin D.
Another article, this one published in Expert Reviews in Molecular Medicine, talks about how certain genetic diseases can interfere with the body’s ability to effectively utilize vitamin B12.
Imagine how your efficiency as a health care provider could dramatically increase if you knew this type of information before making recommendations to your patients. Consider also how quickly they could begin to get results if you knew precisely which supplements (and how much) to recommend.
The future of personalized chiropractic care
Personalized medicine is the way of the future and researchers suggest that it will likely appear in clinical practices in three ways:
Complex algorithms refer to the use of artificial intelligence (AI) that takes into consideration certain factors to make educated “guesses” about the patient. These factors could include their genetics, but also other variables, such as their social status, religion, age, gender, marital status, and more.
Digital health applications are another way health care of tomorrow is expected be more personalized as these apps enable physicians to input information specialized to that patient while also allowing the patient to record their own data, such as their level of activity, heart rate, and any other necessary health information.
Third, the ability to perform genetic testing will provide health care practitioners the opportunity to provide more accurate diagnosis, treatment, and prevention remedies for future patients based on their individual DNA.
This creates a scenario in which more precise recommendations can be made based on the patient’s genetic makeup versus being forced to take a trial-and-error approach that, at the very least, could frustrate patients due to lack of results.