Awareness of personalized medicine and treatment is slowly, but gradually, on the rise, according to the results of a recent survey polling 1,000 consumers published by automated dosage platform maker Dosis.
What’s more, older consumers are the most likely demographic to have some awareness of personalized medicine, as well as the first to admit that their prescriptions are not adequately personalized for their care.
“Somewhat surprisingly, those 65+ were the most likely (37%) to be familiar with personalized medicine [compared to 33% overall],” the company wrote in a report describing the survey results. “It’s often believed that elderly patients are reluctant to try new technologies or innovative alternatives to traditional medicine, but it’s also true that they are the age group most likely to be dealing with some type of healthcare issue. … As these older patients are spending more time within care facilities and with their primary care provider than younger adults, it’s likely that they’ve become more familiar with the potential for medicine personalized to address unique health ailments.”
However, despite these findings and other responses suggesting that prior awareness of personalized medicine is a fair indicator of interest, younger participants more often said they’d be willing to share iPhone or device-tracked data with a provider. In addition, this same 18- to 24-year-old demographic was also more likely to choose a provider offering these treatments than the rest of the cohort.
“Even with nearly 40% of consumers citing that they often don’t get prescribed medicine that they feel is personalized for their unique ailments, consumers do not appear to be in a hurry to swap for a provider that offers more personalized treatment plans,” they wrote. “In fact, only 20% of consumers noted they would choose a provider based on a physician offering personalized medicine in treatments. The number was slightly higher for the subset of Gen Z respondents (26%) that continue to show an interest in more innovative and technology-driven treatments.”
Dosis’ survey writeup also noted that 43% of those familiar with personalized medicine would take a diagnostic for the treatment if referred by a provider, as opposed to only 17% of those who said they were not familiar. Thirty-two percent said they would look outside of their insurance coverage for the treatment in the case of a “serious condition,” although most would not do so if the cost exceeded their annual deductible.
WHY IT MATTERS
Personalized medicine practices — which in Dosis’ case, specifically refers to person-to-person dosing plans — allow clinicians to leverage various patient data to construct an optimal care plan. Such an approach could lead to improved outcomes, shorter cases and the cost savings that result from both.
“For instance, in 2017 the first approved gene-therapy for Leukemia in the U.S. had a $475,000 price tag,” the company wrote in its report. “Of course, the goal with personalized medicine, especially gene-related therapy, is to improve patient outcomes with specialized and short length treatments versus battling chronic conditions over a lifetime. Therefore the out-of-pocket expenses associated with a one-time $475,000 treatment could be around the same cost, or even considerably lower, than the recurring monthly out-of-pocket expenses that cancer patients see today month-over-month.”
Understanding consumers’ awareness and interest in this approach to treatment provides some incite into whether personalized medicine (and precision medicine) is right around the corner or still a means away.
WHAT’S THE TREND
Several voices within digital health have outlined the potential of personalized medicine, and noted that new technologies such as artificial intelligence could allow these kinds of care strategies to scale. However, it’s worth noting that Arivale, a wellness company that offered consumers mail-order test kits to personalize their care, recently shut down operations.