Dr Sigrun Hallmeyer: Precision Medicine Needs to Become More Efficient


Curing cancer is something we all want to do, but logistical issues remain around translating that into practice, explained Sigrun Hallmeyer, MD, medical oncologist with Advocate Health.

In this interview with The American Journal of Managed Care®, Sigrun Hallmeyer, MD, medical oncologist with Advocate Health, addresses logistical holdups in precision medicine that may be preventing all patients who need this care from being able to access it. Among the top issues are inappropriate care and wasteful health care spend.


Can you discuss potential policy priorities to increase equitable access to health care?

Curing cancer is, of course, the headline—that's what we're all wanting to do. But where we sort of ail and have an issue with is the logistics of how do you translate that. Precision medicine certainly plays a huge role in that, and health equity plays a huge role in that because access to care is one big problem that we have in this country. Another big problem, which I think is equally large, is that we have a lot of waste within our system. I would say probably a good third of our health care dollar is stuck in our system because we duplicate care, or we have care that is inappropriate, too late or early, wrong, whatever. With all that, we need to become better in becoming efficient and automated.

The utilization of appropriate discussion of precision medicine or personalized care should not be a boutique situation that is only offered to wealthy, highly educated patients who have the resources to come to the oncologist and ask for it. Or conversely, for patients who are seen in higher-level centers of care where the physicians are familiar with the precision medicine approach and have the logistical background that I discussed earlier, where you have all the pieces in place where such tests can actually lead to an impact on their care.

And so what I think would probably be the very best sort of societal approach to equity in care would be that we need to find a way to reflex these type of things. Very simply put, if you have, say, a lung cancer diagnosis, it shouldn't matter if you're diagnosed in South Chicago, or at MD Anderson in Houston, or at Sloan Kettering in New York City. Your specimen should be reflexively tested for targetable mutations and the patient and the physician should be equally enabled to use that information to define a targeted or precision medicine approach to their therapy.

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