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Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

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Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

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PeaceHealth and the P4 Medicine Institute will partner to encourage clinical use of systems-biology based diagnostics in community care settings

PACIFIC NORTHWEST—In the Pacific Northwest, PeaceHealth has become the first community health system to join the P4 Medicine Institute (P4Mi) in an important collaboration to demonstrate practical clinical applications of systems biology in patient care. P4Mi is itself a spin-off of the Institute for Systems Biology that was founded in 2000 by Leroy Hood, M.D., Ph.D., and several colleagues.

This is a partnership that pathologists and clinical laboratory managers will want to follow. It shows how innovators in molecular biology are pushing forward to engage community hospitals and physicians’ offices in the fast-developing field of systems biology. Their ambitious goal is to achieve early—even pre-symptomatic—diagnosis through the use of multiplex diagnostic assays to analyze genes and proteins.

These are early steps in what some healthcare experts predict will be a powerful revolution in diagnostic medicine. It is a revolution that has the potential to position pathologists as key players in assessing the quality of the patient specimen, overseeing performance of the multiplex molecular and genetic testing, then working with sophisticated software to help physicians interpret the results and select appropriate therapies.

Dark Daily has written about the Institute of Systems Biology on several occasions. Hood created the Institute to develop what he calls “P4” healthcare. The P’s represent predictive, preventive, personalized and participatory medicine. The goal is to decipher the myriad individual metabolic pathways that make up complex diseases, then develop multi-analyte medical laboratory tests that can look at hundreds and thousands of proteins and genes to diagnose these health conditions when they are still in their earliest stages.

Leroy Hood

With the announcement of the partnership involving PeaceHealth of Bellevue, Washington, and the P4 Medicine Institute of Seattle, Washington, the vision of Leroy Hood, M.D., Ph.D. (pictured above) of P4 medicine comes one step closer to implementation in community healthcare settings. (Photo copyright P4 Medicine Institute)

Bellevue, Washington-based PeaceHealth joined the P4 Medicine Institute (P4Mi) this spring. It is P4Mi’s first opportunity to move predictive, preventive utilization of genomics and molecular diagnostics knowledge into the clinical setting in collaboration with a community health system.

Seattle-based P4Mi is a non-profit institution established by the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) and Ohio State University in 2010. Its aim is to provide healthcare that is “predictive, preventive, personalized and participatory.” The initiative also includes academic healthcare partner Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center (OSUWMC). OSUWMC is both payer and provider of healthcare services. It has 55,000 employees and health plan members.

“Bringing PeaceHealth on as our founding community health partner is a critical step in moving P4Mi innovations forward,” stated Leroy Hood, M.D., Ph.D., in a press release issued by P4Mi. Hood is Chairman of P4Mi, as well as Co-founder and President of the Institute for Systems Biology.

Integrating P4Mi Innovations into Clinical Practice

The aim of the PeaceHealth-P4Mi partnership is to play a role in mainstreaming the P4Mi approach in clinical service, according to Peter Adler, Senior Vice President for Strategy, Innovation and Development at PeaceHealth. “Over time, we hope to take rapidly emerging P4Mi health and wellness innovations and integrate them into everyday interactions between PeaceHealth providers and their patients to better predict, prevent and treat disease,” he noted.

Highly-ranked PeaceHealth Is Fitting Partner for P4 Medicine Institute

Bringing PeaceHealth into the P4Mi consortium makes sense. The eight-hospital Catholic regional health system has major medical centers, critical access hospitals, medical groups, and medical laboratories. It employs approximately 17,000 people. Its broad service area includes rural, suburban and urban communities in Alaska, Washington, and Oregon.

PeaceHealth consistently receives national recognition for innovations in the triple aim of today’s providers: patient-centered care, patient safety, and cost efficiency. For example, The Joint Commission ranked it as one of the top five health care systems in the country and the leading system in the West. The rankings were published in the June 2008 edition of the Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

It is expected that three aspects of PeaceHealth’s community reach and focus will contribute a critical new “participatory” dimension to the P4Mi effort. They are:

  • focus on community health;
  • connectedness between patients and community healthcare resources; and,
  • patient activation.

“Serving as the founding P4Mi community health partner promises, over time, to significantly strengthen PeaceHealth’s ability to further improve health care outcomes and lower costs,” stated Marc Pierson, M.D., in the press release. Pierson leads the new-formed PeaceHealth Center for Healthcare Innovation (PCHI). PCHI will begin operations next month. It will focus on the spread of innovations that further improved patient experience, improved population health, and reduced cost of care.

“PeaceHealth… will help us integrate emerging biologic science into community-based care models, and make innovations in wellness and health accessible to whole communities,” explained Hood. He also noted that P4Mi is leveraging systems approaches and pioneering technologies that can further support PeaceHealth’s mission.

Changing the Healthcare Paradigm from Disease Care to Wellness Care

P4Mi’s mission is to use individual genomic and molecular signatures and the precepts of P4 Medicine to transition today’s reactive healthcare system from an illness-based care model, to a highly proactive and personalized wellness-care model. As this occurs, there will be new opportunities for clinical laboratories and pathology groups to add value through the better utilization of molecular diagnostics and genetic tests.

—Pamela Scherer McLeod

Related Information:

P4 Medicine institute, PeaceHealth Launch Partnership to Pilot New Model in Health Care

Lee Hood’s P4 Initiative Finds Community Partner, PeaceHealth

Rapid Progress in Systems Biology Predicted to Increase Multiplex Testing by Clinical Pathology Laboratories