Precision Medicine and the Future of Patient Care
by Dr. Charles Gant, M.D., Ph.D.The standard practice of medicine in the past involved a method of determining a patient’s health history, conducting a physical examination and basic testing. People would go to the doctor when they are sick, and the doctors then prescribed medications to treat the symptoms but offered limited patient education. The promise of a new approach, known as precision medicine, is changing that model of patient care for the better.
With greater frequency of more complex and chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and autoimmune disorders that need to be managed long term, the specialty of precision medicine emerged. Doctors and medical professionals trained in precision medicine specialize in diagnosing the precise metabolic, allergic, immune, infectious, nutritional, toxicological and genetic uniqueness of each patient.
An important first step of identifying the possible root causes for imbalance and illness is crucial to the development of a treatment plan specific to that patient. With this plan, the doctor educates the patient on how to take responsibility for their own illness. This is accomplished by patients becoming proactive in following medical, herbal and supplement protocols to address their illness. These protocols are designed to help detoxify, rejuvenate and strengthen their immune system and assist the body’s natural healing mechanisms.
Some doctors who are also trained in functional medicine can provide a deeper understanding of this process by dealing with such issues such as Krebs Cycles, Methylation pathways, nutrient levels, toxic and hormonal molecules that are identified and used in correcting the root cause of illness.
Personalized medicine protocols treat the whole person, as they are designed to be compatible with the systems of the body—and therefore enhance natural healing properties. The human body wants to heal itself and the right treatment encourages this process. Therefore, laying the foundation for restoring health with good nutrition, a healthy gut, treating underlying issues while managing work/life/stress-balance can make the difference between health and sickness, and must be in place so the body is supported and able to function optimally.
Personalized medicine is growing as a successful specialty because of the foundational goals of those who practice it: to get to the root causes of one’s ailment and to focus on health strategies to detoxify and support the immune system. This methodology allows the body to do its job in healing itself and work more efficiently.
While precision medicine appears to be growing in popularly, there are few doctors that practice this specialty because it deals with complexities in the body. Also, appointments entail lengthy office visits. Most importantly, many doctors haven’t been trained to understand how the comprehensive model of precision medicine works and how it can benefit their patients.
But the future is bright for precision medicine. This form of personalized medicine is a continually evolving field, and as more healthcare organizations learn of and practice these methods, it will become even more prevalent. Likewise, as the government and insurance companies accept this medical model, the sky is the limit to expanding access for many more patients.
Charles Gant, M.D., Ph.D., is a physician, educator and author, specializing in functional medicine, genomics and precision medicine to address the root cause of medical disorders and the biochemical causes of mental/emotional disorders and addictions. He practices in Washington, D.C. at National Integrated Health Associates and is the author of End Your Addiction Now. For more information, visit NihaDC.com/Health-Programs/Functional-Medicine.html.