Have any of you heard of the term P4 Medicine? The term was coined several years ago by biotech pioneer Leroy Hood. Following a complex recipe of the integration of biomedicine, information technology, wireless and mobile, a new phase of digital medicine is being born. The shorthand for P4 Medicine – Predictive, Preventative, Personalized and Participatory – is already in play. Right here, right now, we are witnessing the transformation of how we will receive and experience health care, and it is amazing. How is that happening, and how will it affect us?
The vision of P4 Medicine is that instead of waiting for clinical symptoms to appear, like a growth spotted on an ultrasound after it has spread, physicians will be able to see early warning signs of malignancies from a tiny bit of blood analyzed by genomic instruments and software. If the genes and proteins are really predictive, then physicians could take early action, or patients can focus on prevention via lifestyle. All of a sudden, the focus of medicine goes from reaction to an investment in wellness.
And then there is the technology portion. There are currently over 20,000 different mobile apps available which merge your phone and diagnostics. For example, you can now measure your blood glucose on your and send it to your physician, which, in turn, can help you better understand your blood sugars as a diabetic. (Already, this has covered Personalized and Participatory.) Once this information is predictive, it can also be preventative as well. And that’s just for starters.
The booming field of mobile-health technology is only one part of an equation that is playing into this transformation. For example, GE Healthcare manufacturers a portable ultrasound device about the same size of a cellphone. It’s called the Vscan, and it allows a physician to look directly into the heart of a patient. Here, both the patient and the physician can see the muscle, the valves, the rhythm, and the blood flow. Already, we are touching on the Participatory and Personalized element of P4 Medicine. When we have the experience of witnessing what is happening inside our own body, we can start approaching medicine differently. No longer is your physician simply informing you about news which you may feel slightly removed from. (The language is medical. You may feel a disconnect.)
For those of you who, like me, have had the overwhelming experience of seeing your developing fetus via ultrasound, you can remember what that experience was like. For the first time, you are drawn that much closer in, witnessing life inside you. Similarly, physicians expect that patients who witness their own health in real time will be propelled to take charge of their own health care. It stands to reason that patients are more willing to make lifestyle changes that keep them healthy when they can monitor the consequences of their actions in real time.
Here at oomphtv, we aim to be a great communicator of new age 21st medicine, so stay tuned. Dr. Hood, in particular, believes that this transformative new idea in healthcare is near the tipping point. Timing is everything – we are blessed to be a witness.
If your curiosity is piqued, check out theP4 Medicine Institute for more information.