To push medicine’s frontiers, Henry Ford Health follows the data

Jennifer Lubell , Contributing News Writer

Henry Ford Health’s precision medicine programs are prospering through data-driven innovation and strong collaborations throughout the organization with support from C-suite executives and the patients who benefit from this approach to care.

“What we're trying to do is to reach for a strategy by which we can tailor the treatment in a much more objective and prospective way. And there are plenty of strategies to do that,” according to Tom Mikkelsen, MD, medical director of the Jeffries Precision Medicine Center at Henry Ford Health.

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Dr. Mikkelsen discussed the latest advancements in precision medicine with Suja Mathew, MD, executive vice president and chief clinical officer of Atlantic Health System, during an AMA Insight Network webinar.

Atlantic Health System and Henry Ford Health are members of the AMA Health System Program, which provides enterprise solutions that equip leadership, physicians and care teams with resources to help drive the future of medicine.

Among other benefits, members of the AMA Health System Program have access to the AMA Insight Network’s Quality, Safety and Equity community. This virtual forum provides an opportunity for like-minded leaders from across the country to hear more examples of how leading health systems are finding innovative ways to address health care inequities in their communities.

Under a new academic partnership with Michigan State University, Henry Ford Health is on a trajectory to seek National Cancer Institute center designation. “The islands where precision medicine most commonly has evolved come from cancer,” said Dr. Mikkelsen, citing several examples in which precision medicine has made inroads on various cancers.

Lung cancer now has 20 or 30 mutations that can guide prognosis and define different subsets of disease, and target drugs to specific mutations. Another example is immune therapy for melanoma. “There are markers now that say: If you have that mutation, immune therapy is for you and you're going to do dramatically well,” he explained.

Various domains of data can inform a cancer diagnosis, such as genomic and genetic testing.

“Not only do you look at the mutations in your primary tumor, often we know that there can be genetic risks which are inherited risks in a familial sense,” said Dr. Mikkelsen.

Learn with the AMA how pharmacogenomics enables a precision approach to care.

Henry Ford Health has taken an expansive approach on data strategies for its precision medicine program, homing in on longitudinal and population patient data to risk-stratify populations.

Longitudinal data in the record may include patient-reported outcomes, laboratory values or imaging information.

“Once you can do that, you can have the ability to look at a patient in front of you today, and—because of the population data you have—project what care pathway or what care trajectory they may be on, towards a favorable outcome or a disease-oriented outcome,” Dr. Mikkelsen explained.

To standardize patient-reported outcomes, Henry Ford Health has embedded a model from the National Institutes of Health into its EHR that produces surveys on quality of life and other patient-reported measures to patients before their clinic encounter.

If Dr. Mikkelsen sees a patient in clinic, he can discuss their mental health scores for depression indices, for example.

Find out how Henry Ford Health activates patients to spot problems earlier.

Henry Ford Health has big plans to extend activity on behavioral health, infectious disease and transplants, said Dr. Mikkelsen.

Augmented intelligence (AI) can offer powerful opportunities for medical language models to standardize clinical notes and turn them into hard data. Henry Ford Health works with one vendor, for example, that can standardize clinic notes into a data model that enables physicians to prognosticate more effectively, or for health systems to more easily measure infection rates for quality assurance.

“Data will be the fundamental underpinning of health care delivery,” said Dr. Mikkelsen.