The Role of mHealth in Precision Medicine

Precision medicine is a trend that is becoming increasingly relevant in health care. Although a term often specifically associated with genetic or molecular profiling, the phrase can be more broadly defined as “an innovative approach to disease prevention and treatment that takes into account individual differences in people’s genes, environments, and lifestyles.” (The White House, 2015). With this more general definition, there is a requisite for data in such areas. Although one may immediately concern themselves with the collection of genetic information, exploration of lifestyle and environmental influences is just as paramount. It is in this context that mobile health initiatives such as WelTel may prove to be effective tools in developing a greater understanding of individual patient’s needs. In some instances, mobile health (particularly in applications focussing on medication adherence) already works loosely within the precision medicine medicine framework. By using text messaging to communicate with patients and asses their adherence to medication, interventions such as WelTel inform health care providers as to which steps should be taken for each patient (Van der Kop, 2013). Based on the information shared by patient’s via the SMS platform, providers are able to decide whether a phone call intervention or clinic visit should be scheduled. In this way, a precision medicine approach is already being taken to ensure appropriate health care is delivered to patients based on individual needs. To further this cohesion between precision medicine and mobile health, SMS interventions could be launched to more specifically analyze lifestyle and environmental variables among individual patients. In this context, mobile Health has significant potential to be effective within the precision medicine framework.


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  • van der Kop, M. L., Smillie, K., Memetovic, J., Elwood, K., Hajek, J., Thabane, L., … & Lester, R. (2013). WelTel LTBI: A Randomized Controlled Trial Protocol of a Text-Messaging Intervention to Improve Patient Adherence to Treatment for Latent Tuberculosis Infection. Journal of Mobile Technology in Medicine, 2(4s), 4-4.
  • By Catherine Giffin