Increased Demands on Health System Capacity and Infrastructure From the Use of Precision Medicine

The emergence of precision medicine will put increased demands on the health care system, including physical resources, staff, and infrastructure. Physical resources include the freezers, hospital space, and equipment needed to store and process genetic samples. Infrastructure changes may include the health system’s capacity and workflow to conduct and process tests, maintain information databases, and provide strong information technology support. Having the necessary number and expertise of professionals to perform and analyze results from precision medicine technologies, such as sequencing tests that may have stringent quality control measures, will be necessary to adopt certain technologies.

These increased demands may affect how precision medicine is adopted and implemented across Canada and its long-term sustainability. It is possible that with appropriate use, precision medicine technologies may reduce unnecessary care and improve patient outcomes, and over time result in more efficient and effective health care.

Some examples that aim to address health systems’ capacity include:

  • Scaling-up and spreading access to genetic testing services: For example, GenCOUNSEL is a collaborative, multidisciplinary project by the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute that emphasizes patient and family engagement and has a number of initiatives that aim to increase the capacity to provide genetic counselling and services.
  • Alternative models of care: In England, the NHS has developed the NHS Genomic Medicine Service and is investing in genomic medicine by mainstreaming workforce training, centralizing laboratories, and codesigning health services with patients and the public.

Read Full Report