Right Drug, Right TimeAuthor: Hannah Murfet, Vice-Chair CQI Next Generation Network
“Right first time” is a concept familiar to the quality profession, but it is taking on a whole new meaning since the emergence of personalised medicine. Personalised medicine aims to eradicate an often random and reactive approach to patient care by employing techniques such as genetic testing to ensure treatment is more likely to be effective and safe in a specific patient population.
Traditional approaches to drug treatment generally take a population-wide trial and error approach. That is to say that the drugs used for treatment are known to be generally effective, but their specific effect on an individual patient is often unknown. Drugs are typically tested on large patient populations in order to test for safety and efficacy. As the patient population is seldom uniform, the efficacy is reduced as the drug works well for some and not others. Personalised medicine has the opportunity to change this by allowing us to use the right drug at the right time – a prime example of root cause analysis.
The successes of personalised medicine are staking up, and include genetic testing for breast cancer, chronic myeloid leukaemia and colorectal cancer. One very well-known example is screening for BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations to predict whether a patient needs preventative breast cancer treatment. Other examples include targeted therapy based on chromosome alterations in patients with chronic myeloid leukaemia and KRAS gene mutations used as biomarkers to predict the success of specific drug treatments for colorectal cancer. Seemingly, the possibilities for personalised medicine are endless.
While the upfront costs of personalised medicine are initially higher, they will be reduced in the long term as the cost of quality is reduced by removing the expense of ineffective and repeated treatments. It’s a tremendously exciting time for the pharmaceutical and medical device fields, but I also feel those in the quality profession can take something from this. The application of the right drug, at the right time, has parallels with the work of the quality profession. We aim to use the right tool, the right approach and the right improvement at the right time. So let’s take a ‘personalised medicine’ approach to business improvement. I’m sure the results will be just as powerful for improving quality.
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This post is co-posted with the CQI Blog.
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