HHS Secretary Leavitt Announces Steps Toward "Personalized Healthcare"

In a speech before the annual meetings of the Personalized Medicine Coalition, at the National Press Club last Friday, HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt outlined steps to develop both the information and infrastructure needed deliver personalized healthcare. Among other things, of course, that would require linking genetics to health records while developing appropriate safeguards for the use of such information.

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, said Leavitt, who emphasized much work remains. He 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 healthcare practice."

The HHS initiative entails four key goals:

  1. Link clinical and genomic information to support personalized healthcare
  2. Protect individuals from discrimination based or unauthorized use of genetic information
  3. Ensure the accuracy and clinical validity of genetic tests performed for medical application purposes
  4. Develop common policies for access to genomic databases for federally sponsored programs

Here are links to the full HHS release, and to information about the program.

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