Female lab professional using pipette.
The Science Behind

Personalised medicine and standardisation taking healthcare to new levels

15% - 20% of people with chronic wounds don’t respond to standardised treatments. Personalised medical research can help.

🕐  5 minutes

by  Hans Smola
Healthcare is and has always been inherently personal, but a new era in personalised medicine has opened up many exciting opportunities in the last few years. Innovations and research into technology, genetics, and molecular and cellular analysis is making personalised medicine easier and more effective than ever.
There is some concern about how personalisation sits with other established medical practices like standardisation and translational medical research. Standardisation is about the creation of uniform healthcare treatments; translational medical research involves the application of experimental science to clinical medicine. Both are totally compatible with personalisation. In fact, the combination of personalised medicine, standardisation and translational medical research has the potential to take healthcare to places it’s never been before.
While process standardisation was a major breakthrough in industrial management many years ago, it was only recently introduced to the world of medicine. Standardisation, especially that which uses results from translational medical research, has already helped push healthcare to new levels. Despite some early reservations about the use of standardised treatments, results showed that in many fields, better patient outcomes were only possible by reducing medical complications. Standardisation was key. Introducing checklists in operation theatres, hospital-wide hygiene protocols, and standardised screening and prevention initiatives for cancer and cardiovascular diseases had all made huge contributions.
Man using microscope for clinical research.
So what exact role does personalised medical research play in this landscape of standardisation? Crucially, personalisation offers new and life-saving treatments for smaller groups where standardisation has not achieved progress. Cancer therapy is a good example. By using an individual’s detailed genetic information, it is possible to move from basing chemotherapy on cancer type or tumour stage to tailoring therapies based on each patient’s genetic makeup. The most effective treatment for that individual may be ineffective or even adverse for the rest of cancer patient population, rendering it unacceptable as a standardised treatment.
Medical standardisation makes its impact when it comes to improvements that benefit large populations. But we still have a long way to go in areas such as hand hygiene, surface disinfection and process optimisation in operating theatres. Continued medical research into these areas will help us address the significant challenges facing healthcare systems in relation to things like healthcare acquired infections.
Standardisation also remains important in therapeutic areas such as wound care where simple, effective and economical solutions often provide the best outcomes for people with chronic wounds. Yet, personalised treatment options are also essential to treat wounds for the estimated 15% - 20% of chronic wound patients who fail to respond to standardised therapies. Research into how these two practices overlap has only just begun, but as the cancer therapy example above shows, the results can be highly effective.
If we are to address some of the major challenges faced by today’s healthcare systems, we must stop looking at standardised medicine and personalised treatments as contradictory practices. Taken together, they can be used to go further for health by treating more people, more effectively.
Dr. Hans Smola
Director, Medical Competence Center at HARTMANN GROUP
Hans Smola
Hans joined the HARTMANN GROUP as medical director in 2004. He adds the medical perspective to our product positioning and bridges medical sciences and business. His motto: Today influences what will happen in 5 years. So, let’s get started.