A world of precision medicine

October 30, 2017

As we celebrated 75 years of excellence during the Annual Meeting, we also looked to the future. Predicting the future can be a precarious task that often turns into visions of flying cars and plots of Star Trek episodes. When Susan Rudd Bailey, MD, FACAAI, looks ahead, she stays closer to the ground, to a world that has refined the research of today to make it the reality of tomorrow.

“Who would have thought 10 years ago that we would be holding in our hands a very powerful computer,” she said, referencing the smartphone. “What technologies will we have 10 years from now?”

Dr. Bailey looked at the decade ahead during her opening session Bernard Berman Memorial Lecture, The College and the Future of Health Care. The one certainty, she said, is that technology will be a primary driver of change. “I think the future of medicine will feature incredible technological changes that we can only imagine now,” Dr. Bailey said.

The age of precision medicine will be firmly established in the coming years, she said. Determining the causes of illnesses will have evolved from making differential diagnoses to tying it to genetic mutations. Biologic treatments will target those mutations.

“Advances in genomics will hopefully change our characterization of asthma from phenotypes to genotypes, with the creation of truly personalized medicine,” Dr. Bailey said. “I foresee the day that DNA sequences will be a standard part of a patient’s medical record.”

Reimbursement issues will not go away in the coming years, but it is likely to be tied even more to a value-based system. “There will continue to be changes in physician payment systems, and the leadership of the College will continue to be critical in helping allergists benefit from new payment systems and in demonstrating the high quality of care we deliver,” Dr. Bailey said.

One thing that will not change is the College’s leadership role in allergy and immunology, and in working with payers and other specialties. “The College will play a critical role in the future helping allergists learn and adopt the new technologies, and how to incorporate them into our practices in cost effective ways,” Dr. Bailey said.

Dr. Bailey is speaker of the AMA House of Delegates. The annual Bernard Berman Memorial Lecture recognizes a kind, caring clinician-allergist with interests in the various aspects of allergy and a passion for teaching. The Memorial Lecture is a testament to Dr. Berman’s caring nature, unique skills as a gifted teacher and unselfish compassion for his patients. He was a past president of the College and one of the founders of the American Board of Allergy and Immunology.