HHS Secretary Leavitt Announces Steps Toward A Future of "Personalized Health Care"
HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt today outlined a course for achieving gene-based medical care combined with health information technology, which he called "Personalized Health Care." He said the initiative has the potential to transform the quality, safety and value of health care for patients in the future.
"Personalized health care will combine the basic scientific breakthroughs of the human genome with computer-age ability to exchange and manage data," Secretary Leavitt said. "Increasingly it will give us the ability to deliver the right treatment to the right patient at the right time -- every time."
In a speech before the annual meetings of the Personalized Medicine Coalition, at the National Press Club, the Secretary outlined steps already under way to develop the needed information, as well as new steps he is undertaking to build the foundation for personalized health care and ensure that gene-based medical data and health information technology are used appropriately.
"Every one of us is biologically unique. We've always known that, but we haven't had the knowledge or the tools to deliver health care at that kind of individual level. That's what's changing," Secretary Leavitt said.
Gene-based medicine can help individuals identify their particular susceptibilities to disease while they are well and take effective preventive steps. In the future, it will help detect the onset of disease much earlier, enabling treatment to prevent disease progression, and can help bring about medical products that are tailored more precisely to the needs of each individual.
Health information technology, including powerful new tools for managing vast amounts of information, will be needed both to continue building basic scientific knowledge and to make the new knowledge useable and accessible for patient care.
Secretary Leavitt emphasized how much work remains to build a system that can deliver personalized health care. He has identified this issue as one of his priorities for the next two years.
"The Human Genome Project was a dramatic success, but it has correctly been called a race to the starting line," he said. "The work that remains is sweeping, from the most fundamental science to the details of health care practice."
Secretary Leavitt announced new steps that HHS is taking to lay the foundation for a personalized health care future:
Current efforts at HHS agencies supporting personalized health care total $277 million this year, and are proposed to grow to $352 million in FY 2008. Current work at HHS agencies includes:
"In the future, we'll understand diseases at a new level," Secretary Leavitt said. "We'll know them as gene- or molecular-based diseases. And that will give us new kinds of treatments that will be effective for both the very specific condition and the individual patient."
More information about the Personalized Health Care initiative is available at www.hhs.gov/myhealthcare.
Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at http://www.hhs.gov/news.
Last revised: March 23, 2007