Pharmaceutical advertising has been ubiquitous for decades. We are all well familiar with the phrase: “Ask your doctor….” As the industry and technology get more and more sophisticated, the pharmaceutical products advertised equal that advance. The advertising now can range from cold and flu remedies to immunosuppressant and immunomodulating preparations that can have long-lasting and altering effects.
But that is not what a true consumer healthcare model looks like – it is much bigger. As a consumer looking for answers and/or solutions, pharmaceutical advertising just scratches the surface of possibility. With the advent of the information age, the eyes and ears of each human are a valuable commodity and that can be overpowering. As the biotech industry races to the forefront of development, there is an ever-growing trend to bypass the medical field and directly capture the customer with an ever-widening array of sophisticated diagnostics that can far exceed the average medical clinic’s offerings or knowledge.
Just type in DNA or Genome into a Google search. Ranging in sophistication from simple at-home kits to more complex collections, personalized DNA analysis can be a click away. Beyond the world of genomics, laboratory testing can be done in the comfort of your home.
Iollo Labs is breaking ground as a direct-to-consumer metabolic test that is offered at home. Sign up for a membership, receive a home test, collect some blood, and have over 500 biomarkers measured. Tiny Health strives to bring gut testing to every family through stool analysis with a focus on the gut microbiome. To complicate matters, laboratory companies are entering the market and offering walk-in or on-demand consumer-requested testing.
More and more companies are competing in the field of “liquid biopsy” – a blood test that screens for multiple cancers. Other innovators are offering full body scans such as full body MRI as an extra additive measure for cancer and disease screening. Advanced cardiac screening through the utility of cardiac coronary CT is available without a referral in many areas of the country.
This array of opportunities puts data directly in front of an interested and willing consumer, and the array and sophistication of that data are guided by one’s curiosity, worry, interest, concern, and ultimately, the pocketbook.
However, buyer beware – with the myriad of opportunities and that much knowledge comes power and responsibility. That responsibility is to interpret the data accurately but on an individualized and personalized level. To do so and do so at scale, AI algorithms and machine learning drive the recommendations that may or may not be helpful, accurate, or appropriate.
Without a knowledgeable and committed doctor in your corner, you may find yourself either lulled into false complacency or warned of doom and gloom that may never come. More than ever, you need a doctor you trust who is available, wise, and willing to step into the new world to bring you personalized health-driven care with your own best interest at heart.
Dr. Camilla Petersen is the owner of Petersen Concierge Medical, an innovative bespoke concierge practice that provides comprehensive wrap-around healthcare.