Guest Post by Rob Adelson, CEO of Resolve Digital Health
We live in a highly personalized world.
Online retailers can predict what products will be of interest to us, our media is pre-filtered based on our viewing habits, and ‘Smart’ thermostats adjust the temperature in our homes so it is inline with our preferences and patterns. Even advertising has become highly personal with web and social ads tailored to our individual searches, visits and clicks.
When the goal is to increase sales, brands develop innovative ways to reach individual consumers and cater to their specific needs. However, when we look at the healthcare industry – a sector that could benefit greatly from personalization – we find the integration is comparatively slow.
The U.S. health care system faces significant challenges, one being the slow pace in which technology is adopted. Today, the majority of physicians practice trial-and-error medicine, which often results in patients receiving too mild or too aggressive of treatment. With the level of customization, we are seeing across other industries, it is time we start approaching healthcare with the same level of personalization.
What is Personalized Medicine?
“It is more important to know what sort of person has a
disease than to know what sort of disease a person has.”
Personalized medicine is defined as healthcare that is formed by each person’s unique clinical, genetic and environmental information. It shifts away from trial-and-error medicine and moves towards providing the patient with individualized treatment.
In recent years, the amount of innovation and investment within the personalize medicine space has created a lucrative enterprise, with a global market forecasted through 2022 at nearly $2.5 billion with CAGR of 11.8%. The FDA approved a record number of personalized medicines in 2017. In fact, over the last four years, 25% of all drug approvals have been classified as personalized medicine.
Not only does this represent a huge financial opportunity for companies and investors in this space, it also creates a more efficient and effective patient experience.
Personalized Cannabis Care
One of the benefits of medical cannabis care is that it empowers the patient with control over their treatment. The patient decides which strain best suits their treatment goals and what dosing amount and schedule is most appropriate for them. This alone makes the experience more personal.
However, the freedom and control given to a patient is often seen as daunting – especially to new cannabis users. Thankfully, new innovations allow far greater levels of personalization while addressing the key challenges faced by a medical cannabis patient:
There are approximately 800 strains of cannabis being actively cultivated, all with drastically different cannabinoid ratios and terpene profiles, capable of inducing different subjective experiences and medical alleviations. Finding the right strain for a particular patient dealing with specific condition can be a challenge.
While some companies offer strain recommendations based on genetic testing, others are collecting data from large networks of cannabis users in order to provide recommendations based on what’s been effective for other patients with similar attributes and conditions. Both of these methods provide a starting place from which the patient can adjust depending on its efficacy.
Now that a patient has selected the right strain, new innovation enables further personalization through temperature control. Since different cannabinoids and terpenes vaporize at different temperatures, customizing the temperature to a particular person and strain can maximize the effectiveness of the treatment while minimizing unwanted effects.
Many vaporizers now offer temperature control. However, the real value to the patient will come from those who can identify which strain is in the device, then cross reference that information with the treatment goals of the patient and adjust the temperature accordingly. Again, this creates a starting point which can be adjusted based on data gathered by the patient to inform future treatments.
Another key factor in personalizing cannabis care relates to dosing. How much should a patient take to maximize the effectiveness of the treatment while minimizing side effects.
Emerging technologies use machine learning platforms to track a patient’s treatments, including per-dose efficacy. That information can then be used to customize the suggested dosing protocols for that particular patient at any particular point in time. This information can also be used to offer predictive dosing suggestions to help a patient get ahead of their symptoms (for instance, helping better manage a chronic pain patient’s pain curve).
The legal cannabis market is slated to hit $75 billion by 2030, and with this amount of growth comes responsibility.
Industry leaders should feel empowered and motivated to develop or adopt personalized healthcare within the cannabis space. The medical power of cannabis is undeniable and as the market continues to evolve and professionalize, we should all strive to make this medicine approachable and accessible to the largest patient community possible.
Starting with our respective businesses, we can be a catalyst for change within the national healthcare system. By adopting a mindset directed towards innovation and personalization, we will not only create value within the investor community, but value for the millions of patients suffering within a one-size-fits-most model. And really, what better work is there to put out in the world?
Prior to founding Resolve, Rob founded a luxury hotel resort development company and built Solara Canmore, a $130 million resort. In addition, Rob founded Nitromedia Communications, a dotcom and interactive consulting and media firm, which worked with dynamic international companies to reinvent their business models and implemented exciting new programs in education and corporate training and development. For several years, Rob worked at Deloitte as a Management Consultant with a focus on Human Capital Development and Corporate Reengineering. With an MBA and 25 years of innovative business leadership experience, Rob is a visionary, strategist and technologist.
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