YouScript has received a fair amount of attention at HIMSS since we first began attending the conference in 2013. Pharmacogenetic testing and precision prescribing are always hot topics that draw a lot of attention. Unfortunately, over the past few years that attention has had a challenging time evolving into action. The concept seems to have trouble gaining traction in the here and now, in part because it is always seen as a futuristic technology. However, through President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative, the continued evolution of healthcare IT infrastructure, and with new studies showing that precision prescribing has the power to improve outcomes and reduce costs today we are finally seeing the concept gain momentum. Those three factors made a huge difference in the conversations at the YouScript booth during HIMSS16!
First, as part of the President’s commitment to precision medicine, Dr. DJ Patil, Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Data Policy and Chief Data Scientist in the White House Office of Science and Technology came to the HIMSS conference to hear from C-level decision makers about what the White House could do to help things along. Genelex CEO Kristine Ashcraft was able to attend that discussion and talk to Dr. Patil about creating alignment between the President’s initiative and the government agencies that create seemingly divergent policies. For example, Medicare and Tricare do not currently cover pharmacogenetic testing even if the FDA has called out drug-gene interaction warnings in the product insert.
New studies, such as the IMPACT study, have shown that pharmacogenetic testing along with YouScript software can cut ER visits by 71% and reduce hospitalizations by 39% saving money in just 4-months. Having the opportunity to present these findings to representatives from hospital systems, ACOs, and representatives from European and Asian healthcare systems generated a lot of interest in all people focused on the Triple Aim! Many people who came by the YouScript booth and heard these statistics went on to share that information with their friends and colleagues who would come by and talk to us as well. This led to a lot of great conversations and a lot of people who were interested in doing a free pilot to see how much of an impact YouScript could have in their organization.
Another challenge that YouScript and pharmacogenetic testing in general have faced is that checking for genetic drug interactions is not traditionally integrated into the prescriber’s workflow and can take some time. Time, being the finite resource that it is, presents a large challenge for doctors as they are quite often forced to see more and more patients in the same amount of time. Of course it does not help that most decision support tools that can help in this area are standalone systems that take doctors out of their workflows and take time to use. That is why the announcement of YouScript’s integration with Epic just before HIMSS16 began is such a big deal. Giving doctors the ability to check gene based drug interactions at the point of prescribing from within their EHR is absolutely essential for the promises of pharmacogenetics to come to fruition. YouScript’s availability in Epic will give that ability to more physicians than any other EHR in the US.
Overall, HIMSS16 provided a great opportunity both for the YouScript Precision Prescribing System as well as Precision Medicine as a whole. It was encouraging to see policymakers as well as leaders in healthcare and technology embracing the tools that are available today instead of waiting for the future to save us. Hopefully, this trend will continue and we can have an even larger impact at HIMSS17!