eHealth Time: A Look at Science Fiction in Personalized Medicine

I’ve been hearing about personalized medicine for many years. I have always seen it as a perfect work in progress in which to keep improving the relationship between doctor and patient. Mostly because this type of medicine involves giving the patient what they need, exactly when they need it, which translates into a totally perfect sanitary system, if it is really possible to achieve that.

Still, large doubts exist about how this medicine would be personalized, who would bring it about, and who would be the beneficiaries. This last point seems clear: the patients. The patients, who are demanding ever more concrete attention, can now, thanks to technology, receive this attention.

The past year it was uncertain if there was a rise in personalized medicine, but certainly there was much talk about it and the millions of benefits it has. One of the radical reasons why advancements are being made in the study of DNA, together with the advancements in technology, is that the ability to process information, at reduced costs, is increasing, so links are being discovered between the variations in the sequences of DNA of each person and the types of human sicknesses. In definition, personalized medicine is that which brings an individual beyond his or her molecular-genetic context and intends to comprehend the psychosocial environment of each patient. Does that clear things up for you? It doesn’t for me either.

When we speak about personalized medicine, what are we talking about? From a textbook definition will users (patients) be able to know how it can affect them from day to day? If, as a user, I were asked if I believe in personalized medicine after having it be explained to me in the way it was in the previous paragraph, I would be incapable of understanding how personalized medicine translates into my own medical attention. Do I go to the doctor to have them study my genes? Is there a problem in my psychosocial environment? Should I worry about if I fall within the margin? Do we live, therefore, in a world of standardized medicine? How will personalized medicine affect me?  Therein lies the answer: I will benefit from an improved relationship with my health professionals.

The other day I had a vision that made me think about how personalized medicine would really be in the future. My vision occurred while I was watching the movie Her, a technological fantasy about the relationship between one human and his operative system in which the system (designed by the man) is capable of giving affection and is equally as intelligent as the man himself.

Could medicine really do this? Could an operative system really cover all of the health needs of a human being? Is this the true realization of personalized medicine?  It seems somewhat audacious, but I imagine that personalized medicine is really so. Too science-fiction for you? I believe that technology is capable of making the concepts in our dreams become reality.