Personalised medicine

Personalised medicine will not only include the disorder, but also information about biological characteristics (e.g. genetic data) and other health data relevant to the patient’s treatment.

What is personalised medicine?

Personalised medicine (also called precision medicine or individualised medicine) includes diagnostic, preventive and therapeutic measures that are optimally tailored to an individual person. Information (data) about a person’s biological characteristics, in particular genetic data, is included in the decision-making process for therapeutic and preventive measures relevant to the person’s treatment. It is hoped that such data-based, tailor-made treatments will provide more effective therapy with fewer side effects.

The concept of personalised health goes beyond personalised medicine; for example, it plays an important role in prevention. Personalised health focuses not only on patients but also on healthy people. In addition to information on a person's ‘biology’, additional health data are taken into account with the aim of improving prevention and health promotion, for example by earlier and more comprehensive identification of risk factors that can be influenced, and by developing measures for improving people’s health behaviour.

What are health data?

The term ‘health data’ (or health-related data) means data collected from various sources that may describe or influence a person's state of health. Health data includes information on people’s health (e.g. symptoms, allergies, impaired vision or hearing), on health care (e.g. medications, surgical procedures), data from conventional investigations (e.g. blood pressure, laboratory values, electrocardiography, X-rays), and results from genetic or other laboratory tests. In some areas, information on lifestyle (e.g. diet, alcohol and drug consumption, smoking and physical activity), data on the living environment (e.g. air and water quality, passive smoking or exposure to harmful substances) and insurance and socio-economic data in the broadest sense can also be considered health data.

FOPH-working group "Personalised Medicine"

In recent years, the FOPH has paid close attention to developments in the field of data-driven medicine. An internal working group, in which all FOPH departments are represented, issued a report in June 2017 on developments in data-driven medicine and the associated challenges and tasks for the FOPH (available in German and French). The report introduces the topic, highlights opportunities and risks, and presents an overview of current initiatives in the field of data-driven medicine in Switzerland. It also points out the interfaces and interactions of the topic with the activities and tasks of the FOPH together with the associated challenges. The report is an ‘evolving working paper’ and will be updated regularly by the working group.

A summary of the most important information about personalised medicine is available in the form of a fact sheet.

Last modification 27.05.2022

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