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How Stanford Medicine will “develop, define and lead the field of precision health”

Precision health was the theme of the day here on Friday, with Dean Lloyd Minor, MD, describing to a standing-room-only crowd at a Town Hall event how Stanford Medicine will continue to lead and excel in this area.

Minor, along with colleagues Amir Dan Rubin, president and CEO of Stanford Health Care, and Christopher Dawes, president and CEO of Stanford Children's Health, offered faculty, staff and students a glimpse of the future of precision health here.

The vision has seven primary tenets, Minor explained:

  • Stanford Medicine will lead a transition from diagnosis and treatment toward prediction and prevention
  • It will develop new scientific advances and paradigms
  • It will bridge the gap between basic scientific research and clinical care
  • It will transform clinical care to emphasize compassion and quality
  • It will deliver quality health care at excellent value
  • It will train the biomedical leaders of today and tomorrow
  • It will develop and share its advances globally

Stanford Medicine's focus in this area came about as part of a strategic planning process and taps Stanford's strengths in data science, fundamental bioscience research and specialized care in areas such as cancer, Minor said. It also capitalizes on the nationwide focus on precision medicine, which took center stage in January when President Barack Obama introduced a Precision Medicine Initiative to establish a national system capable of delivering treatments tailored to individual patients.

Precision health includes precision medicine but boldly expands its focus. Precision medicine provides personalized treatments once illness occurs; in contrast, precision health aims to prevent and predict illness, maintaining health and quality of life for as long as possible. Precision health draws on data science tools to translate volumes of research and clinical data into information patients and doctors can use.

A recent Inside Stanford Medicine article described the benefits of such widespread access to data:

Physicians and researchers can better predict individual risks for specific diseases, develop approaches to early detection and prevention, and arm clinicians with information to help them make real-time decisions about the best way to care for patients.

Precision health at Stanford will extend from research laboratories to doctor's offices, which are now spread across the Bay Area, the three leaders told event attendees. For Stanford Children's Health, it manifests as a network of specialty clinics so sick children can receive as much treatment as possible close to home, Dawes said: "We can improve their lives and reduce costs by keeping them out of the hospital."

And for Stanford Health Care, precision health means keeping ahead of ever-changing payment structures by providing quality care that patients value, Rubin explained.

"There is no reason we shouldn't be the best in science, the best in clinical care and offer the best patient experience," he said.

That means partnering with a variety of community health-care organizations as well as start-ups, who can ensure patients have access to the simplest and best technology available to protect their health, Rubin said. And continually integrating efforts between the School of Medicine, hospitals and clinics and facilitating seamless transitions from developments in the laboratory to the clinic is also a key focus, they said.

"Our opportunities are greater than any other place in the world today," Minor said. "We want to develop, define and lead the field of precision health."

Previously: At Big Data in Biomedicine, Stanford's Lloyd Minor focuses on precision health, Global health and precision medicine: Highlights from day two of Stanford's Childx conference and Stanford Medicine's Lloyd Minor on re-conceiving medical education
Photo by CDC/Amanda Mills

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