It isn’t news that the health information technology field is constantly changing.

Who better to ask about these changes and innovations other than the leaders of the industry themselves? Health Management Technology sat down with Dr. Sudeep Bansal, Chief Medical Informatics and Quality Officer for Saint Francis Healthcare Partners to discuss his career, challenges being faced in the healthcare information technology field, rewarding aspects of his job, and perhaps most importantly, where the future of healthcare is headed.

What is your background up to your current role?

I am an internal medicine physician and started my professional life as a Hospitalist physician at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, CT. When the HITECH act was passed, I took on the role of Physician Informaticist and helped with implementing Meaningful Use in the hospital. When we made a decision to switch our hospital EMR to Epic, I took on the role of Chief Medical Information Officer to help implement Epic. In the interim, I also became board certified in Clinical Informatics and completed a Masters in Health Informatics from Northeastern University, Boston, MA.

Currently, I work as Chief Medical Informatics and Quality Officer for Saint Francis HealthCare Partners (SFHCP), which is the Physician Hospital Organization and ACO. I am also currently enrolled in a certificate degree program in Population Health at Jefferson School of Population Health, Philadelphia.

What are you doing to lead St. Francis’ journey from population health to precision medicine?

SFHCP is leading the change from volume to value. All our major contracts with insurance companies are value-based contracts, and therefore we are responsible for the population that is attributed to us.

We are using care coordination to take care of our population. The care coordinators talk to patients that need help, develop a rapport with them, assess their individual needs, and then attempt to address these needs. To me, that is precision medicine—tailoring interventions to the needs of a patient. For example, we had a patient who kept going to the emergency department for uncontrolled diabetes. Our care coordinator spent time with the patient to find the reason why she would not take her insulin. The patient did not have a refrigerator at home to store insulin so she could not stock insulin at home. The care coordinator was able to procure a refrigerator with the help of community resources, and the patient stopped going to the ED.

Every patient is different, and they have socio-economic needs, values, and preferences. For me, precision medicine is attempting to identify individual patients that need help the most and then creating programs to help them. It is not about genetic analysis and targeting medicines based on your genome. That part of precision medicine, for the most part, is still experimental, and there is a lot we can do in the interim.

Where do you see the future of precision medicine going?

Precision medicine, in my opinion, is still a theoretical framework on how to think about “personalized healthcare.” In five to 10 years, this framework will be developed further to use patient-generated health data and biologic data (genomic, proteomic, metabolomic data) and attempt to target therapy to an individual. The difference between the five and 10-year span will be that we will add more data to the mix. While we will have some success, especially in treating genetic disease based on mutations, we have to remember that most chronic diseases are caused by interaction of multiple complex factors consisting of individual’s biology, behaviors, and environment.

Precision medicine, in my opinion, is a very narrow interpretation of complexities of what constitutes health and disease. Health begins where you live, work, and play (Source: Robert Woods Johnson Foundation).

The solution to improving health of the people needs to be multifaceted and will need to target an individual’s biologic profile (including precision medicine), changing behaviors, (individual, family and cultural behaviors) and improving public health services.

The original article can be found at the Health Management Technology site here.