By Matt McCallJul 27, 2019
Picture a bizarre clothing store for a moment…
You walk in. An employee sizes you up and asks you if there’s anything in particular you’re looking for. After learning that you’re a size “large” and that you’d like some new dress shirts, the employee takes you to a table covered with them. All of the shirts are the same size. All XL, extra-large.
“Strange,” you think, and go to another table covered with shirts. All the shirts are the same size. All XL.
“Stranger,” you think, and go to another table covered with shirts. Once again, all the shirts are the same size. All XL.
Sensing your confusion, the employee explains the store’s “one size fits all” policy. The owners know people come in many shapes and sizes, but XL is the only size of clothes they can get from their suppliers.
You walk out of the “one size fits all” store, thinking it’s one of the most ridiculous things you’ve ever seen.
A “one size fits all” clothing store isn’t much different than America’s healthcare system.
Lacking the resources to treat us as individuals – with different genetic makeups, different diets, and living in different environments – doctors frequently resort to treating patients with “one size fits all” procedures and medicines. And since most doctors rush patients in and out of the office to boost profits, the pressure to use sub-par, “one size fits all” treatments is massive.
Don’t get me wrong: Our approach to health and medicine is light years ahead of where it was in the 1800s. Bloodletting is no longer a “go to” move for doctors.
However, many of the decisions made by today’s healthcare professionals will look medieval when compared to the treatments of the near future. They simply don’t take into account that every case is different – that we are all unique. Take the drug commercials you see on television… which go on to list lots of horrible side effects of popular drugs (which don’t work for everyone who takes them).
Soon, we’ll say goodbye to those types of treatments. That’s because the age of customized, “precision” healthcare is getting started. The result will be a massively improved healthcare system… and some of the biggest wealth building opportunities of your life.
In today’s essay, I’ll describe the three key innovations that will take us into the age of precision medicine. Investors will want to pay attention. In America, we spend $3.5 trillion – about 18% of GDP – on healthcare. When something big happens in healthcare, it creates giant ripple effects in the economy that enrich those who know what’s happening.
Every cell in your body has a set of genetic instructions that dictate what you look like, what your athletic abilities are, what your mental abilities are, what diseases you’re likely to get, and dozens of other key things that make you YOU.
This set of instructions is called your genome. Determining exactly what your genome says is a process called genome sequencing.
In 2003, an international research organization called The Human Genome Project sequenced a human genome for the first time. The project’s price tag was an enormous $3 billion.
Thanks to incredible advances in computing power, that same sequencing can be performed today for less than $1,000. And in a few years the price will be as low as a dinner for two.
Genome sequencing is a critical part of precision medicine because it allows medical professionals to get an incredibly detailed analysis of who you are. As a result of this information, doctors can recommend treatments that are right for you.
Sixteen years ago, getting this kind of detailed information was prohibitively expensive. But now that costs are down more than 99% and poised to go down even more, genome sequencing is about to go mainstream.
Genetic testing will become part of regular medical care… just like taking your pulse and your blood pressure. It’s going to usher in an era of much more effective healthcare. In large part to innovation #2…
It’s one thing to have lots of information. It’s an entirely different – and more valuable – thing to be able to analyze that information and use it to make quality decisions.
This is where digital patient records come in.
Genome sequencing will produce vast amounts of information that will need to be stored and analyzed. Just as the processing power of our computers has increased by leaps and bounds since 2003, our ability to collect and store information has increased as well. This continued growth is a key part of precision medicine. That’s because genome sequencing is going to generate a stupendous amount of information.
It is predicted that the amount of storage capacity for all human genome data will increase to 40 exabytes by 2025. To put that into perspective, experts believe all videos on YouTube will require 1-2 exabytes of storage and Twitter will require .001 to .017 exabytes.
As for analyzing all that data, we come to Innovation #3…
As you can guess, we’re not going to sift through some of the world’s largest data sets with a pen and paper in hand.
We’re going to use artificial intelligence (AI) to perform advanced data analysis. AI programs will sift through data to identify treatments that work for patients with specific genetic conditions.
These programs will be able to do more “thinking” in one minute than millions of doctors could do in a decade. It’s going to revolutionize healthcare.
In fact, I believe that within the next 30 years, AI will know how various combinations of molecules will affect patients on the individual level. We’ll have giant databases of patients and their genetic makeups… and we’ll be able to test new drugs with computer simulations. The time it takes to devise, test, and produce new life-saving drugs will be massively condensed. Plus, the cost of doing it all will plummet.
We’ll have vast databases of human genomes and the ability to create and test new customized treatments in seconds. It could easily become the most valuable technology on the planet. Again, this is many years away, but I believe it’s going to happen.
One size fits all
Thanks to the technological limitations of the past, our healthcare system is based on treatments that are not tailored to your genetic makeup. We’re using “shotgun” approaches instead of targeted approaches.
However, thanks to cheap and widespread genome sequencing, digital record keeping, and artificial intelligence, we’re about to enter an amazing era of precision, personalized medicine.
Over the next 20 years, the healthcare system we know and don’t love will change dramatically. We’ll look back at some of today’s treatments as medieval.
Remember: In America, we spend $3.5 trillion – about 18% of GDP – on healthcare. When something big happens in the industry, it creates giant ripple effects. That’s why the precision medicine revolution is one of the greatest wealth building opportunities of your life.
The opportunities are not in the old school big pharma names like Johnson & Johnson. They are in precision medicine and the technologies that will enable it.
Everything from digital records company Cerner to gene testing pioneer Illumina to contract research services firm IQVIA Holdings will take the lead in the future of precision medicine.
And keep an eye on the IPO market here as well. We’ll see waves of early stage companies going public… many with the potential to not only revolutionize medicine, but revolutionize your net worth as well.
Speaking of revolution, tomorrow we’ll talk about the “perfect storm” of change coming to one of the biggest industries on the planet.
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