Precision medicine –fueled by technological advances, scientific breakthroughs and significant financial investments – has the potential to improve patient lives all around the world. But, it is only effective if a patient receives proper genomic testing to identify their genetic profile and inform the best treatment strategy. Given that 50 percent of all drugs will be classified as specialty by 2022, we anticipate that the percentage of oncology therapies that require genomic testing will increase dramatically in the coming years. It is critical that, as essential providers of accessible cancer care in our country, community oncologists have access to the latest education and guidance on when and how to test patients, and how those tests can be leveraged to support treatment plans.
ION Solutions, one of the largest oncology GPOs in the U.S., regularly convenes our member practices to discuss industry opportunities and challenges. In these meetings, we heard several of the same questions from oncologists wanting to offer patients the benefits of precision medicine: who should be genetically tested, and what tests should be considered for optimal results? How do we interpret test results to best identify treatment options and navigate challenges with reimbursement? We found physicians across the country first needed guidance on how best to leverage the emerging science of genomic testing, and second, they needed consistent, reliable access to these recommendations, from wherever they were located.
After working with a panel of physicians to formulate Precision Medicine Testing (PMT) Recommendations for six disease states, we launched the Precision Medicine Portal for members. The Precision Medicine Portal is a web-based access point for the PMT Recommendations, as well as pertinent industry news, related clinical advancements, FDA approvals and legislative updates. Using a real-time, web-based portal allows oncologists to reference the resources they need quickly and efficiently, from any location and at any time. It decentralizes best practices and puts the information physicians and their teams need at their fingertips.
We can also use technology to open the lines of communication between providers, payers and genomic testing companies. One of the largest barriers to increasing the effective use of genomic testing is still reimbursement challenges. Like with the distribution of the PMT Recommendations, technology can be used to facilitate information sharing, but it can also enable direct communication. There is opportunity to evolve the same portals used to host testing recommendations into platforms through which oncologists and payers can connect directly. Using secure, online resources, physicians can ask payers questions, offer feedback and, ultimately, resolve issues impacting patient care.
In the future, there is even potential to leverage technology to enable greater data-sharing capabilities related to genomic testing. As more physicians become familiar with and use genomic testing, there will be an increase in outcomes-based data and it will need to be continually shared with payers to support ongoing investments in testing coverage. This collaboration will pave the way for the longevity of precision medicine and allow physicians to connect cancer patients with the most effective treatment options.