In addition to better care today, physicians are learning more about how to treat patients in the future. "You're not just getting a 'yes' or 'no' answer," Berlin said. "You're getting a molecular profile of a patient, organism or tumor. The data gleaned through the laboratory testing has the opportunity to be further used to have more precise, prescriptive, and personalized care plans."
The collected data also has the ability to improve outcomes on a broader level. The All of Us Research Program, formerly known as the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) Cohort Program, is an undertaking by the PMI to gather genetic, lifestyle, and environmental data from over one million diverse volunteers in order to more effectively apply precision medicine to all diseases.
Increased access to care
Better testing in the clinical environment is crucial for better patient outcomes, but it doesn't speak to the whole scope of patient-centered care. In addition to more accurate and detailed diagnostic testing, patients also want better access. Retail pharmacies can help fill this gap.
The Clinical Laboratory Improvements Amendments of 1988 (CLIA) revised federal and state regulations concerning certification and oversight of clinical laboratory testing. One important change allowed pharmacies to apply for a CLIA waiver, which gives the ability to perform routine medical testing on-site. Additional abilities afforded by collaborative practice agreements allow some pharmacists to follow up on results with prescribed treatments.
With the primary care physician deficit expected to reach 20,400 by 2020, expanding pharmacist capabilities will be a crucial part of providing patients with access to care. Per a 2016 report from the Mercatus Center of George Washington University, pharmacies with CLIA waivers have already shown that they are more than able to do their part, without a negative effect on their typical duties.
"There's a shortage of physicians and a shortage of patients who actually have a primary care doctor, so providing patients more ready access to care is only going to help the healthcare system better manage its volume," said Brad Tice, RPh, PharmD, director of product strategy for adherence and wellness measures at Cardinal Health.
The CLIA waiver, coupled with pharmacists delivering basic diagnostics, is providing greater access to diagnostics for consumer-minded patients.