How The Healthcare Ecosystem Can Remove Barriers to Precision Health

CancerIQ CEO and Founder Feyi Ayodele recently shared some ideas about how to bring equity to precision health.

“We are living in an era of tremendous progress against cancer,” Ayodele writes. Tools such as immunotherapy and multicancer early detection tests have given doctors the best tools to fight disease since the beginning of modern medicine. The problem is that long-standing disparities in cancer outcomes suggest that these tools could be applied more effectively.

More than half a million people in the U.S. are projected to die from cancer in 2022. This loss of life disproportionately affects communities of color, particularly Black people. Death rates for colorectal cancer in Black men are 47% higher than those of white men, and Black women face 41% higher odds of dying from breast cancer than white women.

The solution Ayodele puts forth: precision health.

Precision health stems from precision medicine. Precision medicine uses genomics to provide medical treatments tailored specifically to the patient’s genetic profile and disease characteristics. Precision medicine has been a huge advance in cancer care. But the same technology could be used earlier.

“Precision health … takes the concept of hyperpersonal care and applies it sooner, to cancer prevention and early detection,” Ayodele says. “Using a patient’s family history, genetic profile, lifestyle, and a host of other health factors, precision health enables us to create more effective prevention pathways for each patient.”

This is exactly what CancerIQ does.

“People of color are less likely to receive a referral for genetic testing than white Americans. That makes them less likely to have a precision prevention plan put in place—and instead relegates them to receiving one-size-fits-all care that may not be applicable to them,” Ayodele says.

Ayodele believes the system needs to be changed to bring risk assessment and prevention services to where patients are, and then supports doctors in providing that care. How? She offers two ideas:

  1. Bring risk assessment into primary care practices. Personalized prevention only works if it’s accessible to all patients, and primary care is accessible, cost-effective, and offered in some form in every community, making it the best venue to assess every patient’s risk and provide a personalized care plan that can be managed over time. The right support for this will help ease potential burnout risks.
  2. Equip primary care providers with the right tools to make precision prevention possible. Based on her experience leading CancerIQ, a cancer-focused precision health platform, Ayodele says the most effective way to do this is integrating clinical guidance directly into their EHR workflows.

While it’s often said that cancer doesn’t discriminate, there are definite disparities in who has access to precision health tools that can lead to prevention or an earlier diagnosis. To apply this care equitably, it’s critical to remove barriers that prevent too many Americans from getting precision health care.

Read the full article here.