Healthcare | By | 03/04/20 | 3 Minute Read

What is Personalized Healthcare?

This past year opened my eyes to one of the latest advancements in medicine: personalized healthcare. Unfortunately, a close friend was diagnosed with cancer, and I spent many hours with her at a precision cancer treatment center in San Francisco. When I first entered the treatment center she was at, I wasn’t sure what precision medicine or personalized healthcare was. 

Now, many months later—and after getting the wonderful news that my friend is in remission—I am inspired by these ultra-modern, potentially life-changing techniques. 

Understanding Personalized Healthcare

Personalized healthcare, also called personalized medicine or precision medicine, is an evolving field in which physicians use diagnostic tests to determine which medical treatments will work best for each patient. By combining the data from those tests with an individual’s medical history, circumstances and values, health care providers can develop targeted treatment and prevention plans.

For my friend’s cancer care, doctors defined a treatment plan specific to her gender, age, medical history, type of cancer, and other individual factors. They also connected her with a relevant support group and a dietician to develop a nutrition plan. Rather than an unspecialized treatment, everything was customized for her singular needs, creating in her case a positive outcome. 

The Benefits of Personalized Healthcare for Your Employees

Personalized health care is still quite new and unfamiliar to the general population. In a 2018 survey of 1,000 people in the US, two-thirds said they had never heard of “precision medicine” or “personalized medicine,” but the vast majority (82%) were curious and interested in more information.

As personalized healthcare becomes more available, the benefits are stirring up lots of interest. The data from sensors, medical instruments, and trackers and smartwatches, such as Fitbit devices can be incredibly valuable to physicians and researchers tasked with providing better quality care.  

Many organizations are working with wellness technology companies to collect anonymous, aggregated data. Collectively, this research promises to deliver major breakthroughs for diseases such as cancer and diabetes found in large segments of populations, as well as difficult-to-treat rare diseases that can strike smaller groups and demographics.

Within businesses, HR managers are seeing employees become more involved in their own care as they proactively track their health stats. Having personalized data and sharing it with their doctors is creating more engagement with health care providers and potentially preventing serious health concerns.

On the cost side of the health care equation, precision medicine is considered to be disruptive in its ability to drive down health care costs without compromising quality or outcomes. All in all, the expectations of personalized health care offer tremendous hope.

The Personalized Health Care Tools

While personalized health care is most often discussed with cancer, diabetes, and obesity, it is also carving out a spot in preventative care. Fitbit devices can help users know themselves better and make self-care changes to become healthier. The option to have physicians review steps, physical activities, sleep patterns, and nutrition can help keep users accountable and can be a major factor in improving healthy habits. One way for employees to have a more informed conversation with their doctor is by using the new Fitbit Wellness Report.* 

By helping users get healthier, Fitbit devices and health coaching platform can contribute to preventing health problems and addressing medical conditions. With the data available from Fitbit devices and the trend-spotting tools in the health coaching platform, your organization can easily take part in the growing trend of providing personalized health care to your employees. 

*Requires using a Fitbit device for at least 30 days; some data require a heart rate enabled device. For weight tracking, connect with a Fitbit scale or log weight in the app.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.

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