Mayo Clinic Takes 'Holistic' Approach to Personalized Medicine

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media , October 11, 2012

Patients who have exhausted traditional treatments will have their tumor genomes sequenced to identify pathways that would make them suitable candidates for therapeutic drugs.

"We are absolutely at a critical juncture in medicine. Medicine will be fundamentally different than [it is] today," Farrugia  says. "We don't fall into the pitfalls that other exciting technologies have run into. We can do that by being very systematic, and project-approach oriented."

While Mayo is among a handful of systems developing specialized institutions to roll out personalized medicine, others are combing research and clinical work for personalized medicine, with some dubbing it "individualized" medicine, or "precision" medicine. 

Still other hospitals aren't going that far. Even though they may publicize that they offer "personalized" medicine, what they are doing is a far cry from what Mayo has launched.

The term "personalized medicine" itself has become the subject of internal disputes over what it means, and over the veracity of some institutions' claims about offering it.

"It's a real form of contention," Farrugia  says. "If you talk to caring physicians, [they'll say] that's why they went into medicine in the first place, personalized medicine. You sit down with a physician who asks, ‘ Are you sensitive to medication?' That's personalized. It's not the greatest of terms."

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