Frequently Asked Questions

What is personalized healthcare?

The Personalized Healthcare Initiative at Cleveland Clinic defines personalized healthcare as tailoring medical management and patient care to the individual characteristics of each patient, by incorporating the genetic & genomic make-up of an individual, personal and family medical history, environment, health-related behaviors, culture and values, and patient preferences into a compete health picture that can be used to customize care to the individual.

What are the benefits to this approach to care?

Personalization of healthcare allows medical professionals to go beyond the “one size fits all” model of medicine and make the most effective clinical decisions for each patient based on their makeup rather than the population.

What role do genetics and genomics play in personalizing patient care?

A patient’s genetic makeup can help clinicians understand their risk for disease – and in some cases, even determine how a person may respond to certain medications. Family health history, along with a genetic/genomic profile and environmental factors can indicate increased risk for certain diseases, allowing the healthcare provider and the patient to create a plan for prevention and/or surveillance.

What is pharmacogenetics?

The word derives from the words pharmacology and genetics. Pharmacogenetics is the study of a how a person’s genetic make-up affects the body’s response to drugs.

There are a variety of factors that can influence a person’s response to drug treatments. For example, environment, diet, age, and lifestyle can play a role in a person’s responsiveness to certain therapies. The goal of pharmacogenetics is to create personalized drugs or dosing guidelines with greater effectiveness and safety.

What are the potential benefits of pharmacogenetics?

Doctors will be able to analyze a patient's genetic profile to determine how well the body will process the medication and the time it will take the person to metabolize it and then prescribe the best available drug therapy. This approach to prescribing medications will potentially reduce recovery time and increase patient safety by reducing adverse drug reactions.

Pharmaceutical companies will be able to create drugs based on biomarkers targeted to specific diseases, relevant to a person’s genetic profile.

Is pharmacogenetics currently being used in patient care?

Yes. Pharmacogenetics is being used in a limited capacity for the treatment of various cancers.  Also, Cleveland Clinic implemented the Personalized Medication Program which employs alerts at the time of prescribing for certain medications in order to integrate pharmacogenetic-informed prescribing into standard clinical practice.

What is a Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) and how does it impact healthcare reform?

A Patient-Centered Medical Home is a team-based approach to personalizing patient care, evaluating and treating symptoms and coordinating appointments for patients. The goal is to enable primary care providers to serve as the focal point for the overall patient care plan while working collaboratively with other healthcare providers in an effort to improve access, patient-physician communication and the overall quality of care.

The PCMH model impacts healthcare reform by attempting to more efficiently utilize healthcare dollars by reducing inappropriate self-referrals to specialists based on symptoms rather than information from a comprehensive medical evaluation. This model will place the primary care provider at the center of the patient’s care, build enduring patient-physician relationships and facilitate the use of appropriate medical resources. The entire model is based around better care and lower costs, specifically for people with chronic conditions or recent hospitalizations.


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