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Can You Hear Me Now?

The promise of precision medicine requires easy access to individuals’ genomic data. Advances in health information technology are as instrumental to realizing that promise as genomic science is.

Why is health IT important to precision medicine?

The idea of having a person’s genome sequenced and available for interpretation is central to precision medicine. The availability of the genomic data is facilitated through health information technology, so patients and providers are able to access individuals’ genomic sequences when needed.

What health IT barriers are there to precision medicine?

Our prior post Ready Or Not discusses some of the scientific barriers to the personal genome, but there are also barriers in information technology or computing capabilities.  Fundamental changes to health IT infrastructure are needed to realize precision medicine. Critically important among these is interoperability, the ability for different technology platforms, systems, and software programs to easily transfer data back-and-forth among doctors, patients, hospitals, pharmacies, insurance companies, etc.

What needs to happen to overcome some of these barriers?

The barriers to easy communication across healthcare entities is both a people and an economic problem. The technology exists through application programming interfaces (APIs) to facilitate communication.  The Health Level Seven International (HL7) is a not-for-profit standards developing organization that has established Fast Healthcare Interoperability Standards (FHIR) to encourage adoption of standards across the healthcare industry.  Progress is being made, and recent moves by regulatory bodies may encourage faster adoption.


1. HIStalk Interviews Grahame Grieve, FHIR Architect and Interoperability Consultant. HISTalk, March 25, 2019. Accessed August 26, 2019

2. FHIR Overview. Accessed August 26, 2019

3. Siwicki, B. What you need to know about healthcare APIs and interoperability. HealthcareIT News, April 11, 2019. Accessed August 26, 2019

4. Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to Improve the Interoperability of Healthcare Information. February 28, 2019, Accessed August 26, 2019

5. HHS Proposes New Rules to Improve the Interoperability of Electronic Health Information. February 11, 2019, HHS.go. Accessed August 26, 2019

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