Scientists are now using big data analytics to mine electronic health records for clues as to what treatments work best for different individuals, as discussed in a piece aired by National Public Radio on January 10 2016 “Electronic Health Records May Help Customize Medical Treatments.”
The interview included Dr. Tracy Lieu, who heads the Kaiser Permanente research division in Oakland, Calif., Dr. David Ledbetter, the Chief Scientific Officer Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania, and Dr. Harlan Krumholz, a professor of medicine at Yale University who researches cardiology and health care.
While computerized medical records are hardly new (they date back to the 1970s), the potential now is that patients can proactively take part in mining the records, and that patients’ genetic information is key to this data mining, Leiu stated.
“Even though this is primarily a research project, we’re identifying genomic variants that are actually important to people’s health and health care today,” Ledbetter added.
Geisinger patient Jody Christ was also featured. She had volunteered to get the genetic screen during one of her routine medical visits, as her doctor had been concerned about her high cholesterol. Her screening – known as exome testing – told her and her providers that she had inherited a genetic trait that elevated her cholesterol. The genetic diagnosis led directly to a series of screenings.
Krumholz is excited at the prospect of being able to look at physical symptoms in medical records and then look for genetic variations that could be responsible. While the system is not yet robust it bodes very well for the inclusion of PGx testing as a vital piece in the customization of patient electronic records.