The pandemic has created a need to re-examine and revitalize our current approaches to health care. A shift toward modernized systems that support the evolution of science technology is long overdue. While Canadian health care workers did an amazing job of managing the onslaught of ill patients, public health initiatives during this time completely overlooked the health of those without COVID who were isolated at home.
There’s no question that the extended period of isolation exacerbated symptoms of depression in many Canadians, especially younger communities. Isolation from social interaction and constant fears associated with an unknown virus created an unhealthy psychological environment. Yet, although it was challenging for most of us, many people came out of it with new-found inspiration to take control of their own well-being.
Taking steps to optimize health
Although there is no way to eliminate disease completely, the impact of prevention is underemphasized and often overlooked. In fact, instead of living in constant fear of sickness or disease, a shift to a preventative mentality can empower individuals to instead strengthen their physical and mental health to prepare for any challenges they may face. Precision medicine makes this possible.
Precision medicine focuses on establishing the most accurate picture of an individual’s history and state of health to develop personalized recommendations and interventions for them. This is followed by the use of digital wearable devices that provide constant reporting of various patient metrics such as activity, heart rate, blood glucose and sleep data to assess the effectiveness of the interventions and to make adjustments as needed to ensure the patient meets their health goals.
It is important to remember that every body is different — not everyone will have the same responsiveness to the same treatments. Precision medicine aims to correct this by keeping the patient — and their individual needs — at the centre.
The mechanics of precision medicine
To establish the most accurate health picture of the individual, precision medicine uses advanced health monitoring technology. Consider the rise in popularity of health devices such as the Apple watch, Oura ring, and continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) devices, which give us a unique opportunity to monitor our biometrics 24/7. The information that these devices gather can be overwhelming for many people and is rarely utilized to its full potential. But by integrating data from continuous health monitoring devices with multi-omic (genome, proteome, transcriptome, epigenome, metabolome, and microbiome) clinical tests, we can obtain a detailed snapshot of a patient’s state of health, and gain a better understanding of how their body reacts to changes in the environment, lifestyle, and medical interventions.
Continuous monitoring also provides the advantage of instantly detecting when something is off in your body — before you even realize it. For example, continuous biometric tracking has recently been used for early detection of infection — up to 10 days before clinical symptoms appear. It’s a technology that provides a high-definition picture of health that has the potential of helping us to stay two steps ahead of our health, and improving outcomes more effectively than ever before.
It sounds like mere science fiction, but precision medicine is closer than you think — and for patients, it means better health. And it’s something we can all benefit from.
Dr. Rohan Bissoondath, MD, is the medical director and founder of Preventous Collaborative Health, Preventous Cosmetic Medicine, and Xone Precision Medicine. He is also the president of the Canadian Association of Aesthetic Medicine and is certified by the College of Family Physicians of Canada and licensed through the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta.
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