Precision Medicine; A Hole-in-One?

Victor JohansonBlog

Why are all golfers investing in this $20,000 device, and what does it have to do with precision medicine?

Few people understand the importance of precision and accuracy better than the golfing community. Driving a 1.6-inch ball across hundreds of yards of a land to drop it into a hole only 4.25 inches around, while contending with a multitude of factors: wind speed, green speed, hazards, temperature, club choice, etc. is no easy task. It is a challenging game, to say the least, and every single inch matters. That is why today’s professional golfers are investing thousands of dollars to gain those extra inches, they understand that something minuscule now can be quite significant in the grand scheme of things.

The device they are all purchasing is called a TrackMan and it retails at roughly $20,000. This is no small investment, but every professional in the game has one. Why? Like I said, this is a game of inches.

The TrackMan is designed to interpret all of the elements a golfer is faced with, and deliver easy-to-read data to the golfer to help him/her decide the course of action to be taken to achieve the best possible outcome. Even though the golfer has been here before, and understands exactly what he has to do in order to be successful, each day the elements he or she has to contend with are different. No experience is exactly the same, neither are patients.

A physician understands exactly what he or she must do to reach a successful outcome during each procedure, but can they accurately assess every single contributing factor that affects each individual patient?

To quote TrackMan, “Don’t guess what you can measure.”

It is extremely difficult to mentally calculate, for each individual, what data elements will affect the outcomes of the procedure. Height, weight, hemoglobin, CAD presentation, creatinine, family history and diabetes diagnosis are just a few of the elements that can affect outcomes.

Generally, we rely on patient populations to help us understand our current patient. The problem with this is we are building an “average” patient/scenario when people are in fact not average. Coming back to my golf analogy, the fairway on hole #3 and hole #5 are very similar, but you certainly can’t approach each of them in exactly the same way.

With precision risk modeling, physicians are able to more accurately understand each individual patient and their specific needs. By placing individuals in specific risk categories, variation in care is reduced, resources are better utilized, and most importantly patient outcomes and satisfaction are improved. Barnes-Jewish Hospital has witnessed some astounding results after implementing the ePRISM platform. By tailoring treatment pathways to each specific individual, they witnessed a 50% decrease in AKI as well as a significant drop in bleeding rates and mortality, and are nearing top decile performance. The combined effort of the data-delivery platform and the experienced physician give patients the greatest chance at the best possible outcome.

ePRISM does not take the place of the physician, just as the TrackMan does not replace the golfer. This is not a matter of capability. Could Tiger Woods walk up to any hole in the world and be successful. Most would agree that yes, he could. But is there a possibility that there is a factor that he has not considered, or miscalculated that could improve his performance on any given hole, even if it’s a matter of inches? Should we not be as precise, or more so when it comes to a human life?

“Don’t guess what you can measure.”

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