When Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist from California, underwent knee replacement surgery, his recovery was far from easy. Months of physical therapy from best-in-class facilities did nothing to end the sleepless nights of pain he endured. The problem? Dr. Topol was victim to a one-size-fits-all approach to medicine.
Modern medicine, known for it’s pill for an ill standard of care, is failing us. Generic prescriptions do little beyond curing a common cold. Fortunately, a new era in medicine hopes to change that.
In his detailed account, Dr. Topol describes how his quest for healing lead him away from his orthopedist, to an empathetic physical therapist. Within days, results were transformative.
Dr. Topol’s case is not unique. Homogenous advice is the medical norm. ‘Arthritis? Take this pill, Tendonitis? do that stretch’. Advice without due diligence is like finding the electric switch in the dark; you have a feel for where it is, but you can’t be sure.
Enter individualized medicine: helping practitioners diagnose, treat and increase the rate of recovery for their patients. Individualized medicine (IM), also known as precision medicine is a genetics-based approach to health care. By testing a patient’s genes, doctors can preempt future illness. It can also be used to prescribe medicine based on an individual’s genetic profile, empowering doctors to choose the drug best suited to that individual’s body. Imagine that? Months of chronic pain wiped out because the right drug was prescribed in the first place.
Beyond genetic testing and targetted drugs, doctors and health practitioners would do well to spend time and due care listening to their patients. In the case of Dr. Topol, his physical therapist took a detailed look at her patient’s medical history, provided handwritten rehabilitation instructions, and checked in with Dr. Topol every other day. Is it coincidence Dr. Topol felt an immediate relief within days? Empathy is key, the better a doctor understands you the higher your chances of success.
No one loves the doctor’s office, but advances such as IM provide hope for an optimistic future in health care. Ultimately, putting the patient first is a must if we are to move from a one-size-fits-all approach to medicine.
As always, pushing for health.