Advancing science and expanding the reach of precision medicine

Published May 9, 2018

Precision medicine tailors treatment for a growing number of health conditions based on your genetic makeup, environment and behavior. Understanding those elements can help doctors make more informed decisions about preventing disease and recommend the most effective treatments. Researchers, healthcare organizations and businesses are working together to better understand this emerging science. Now, they’re inviting people across the country to help shape the future of healthcare. 

Forging a partnership with a groundbreaking research project

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) has announced a partnership with a National Institutes of Health (NIH) initiative called the All of Us Research Program that will dramatically advance the understanding of precision medicine and its potential. The goal: enroll a million or more individuals of all backgrounds to accelerate health research and medical breakthroughs across a range of health conditions to enable individualized prevention, treatment and care for all. Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies hope encourage diverse communities to participate in the research.

According to the NIH, All of Us is expected to be the largest and most diverse longitudinal health research program ever developed. The data collected will be broadly accessible to researchers to support thousands of studies across a wide range of health topics. The hope is to discover ways to more precisely prevent and treat health conditions.

How health insurers are advancing the science of precision medicine

As the health insurer for one in three Americans, BCBS companies will promote participation in All of Us and find meaningful ways for the communities they serve to benefit from the program’s discoveries. But BCBS companies aren’t stopping there. Many are exploring innovative ways to accelerate the science and adoption of precision medicine for members across the country. Here’s how:

  • Investing in research. Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield (Highmark BCBS) has partnered with VITAL (Verification Of Innovation Through Testing, Analysis, & Learning), the innovation acceleration platform of parent company Highmark Health that focuses on vetting promising precision medicine technologies. Highmark BCBS provides high level claims data for analysis and covers treatments for patients involved in VITAL studies.
  • Supporting clinical trials. BCBS companies across the country have joined a groundbreaking new clinical trial called WISDOM (Women Informed to Screen Depending on Measures of Risk). The study will compare the benefits of personalized screening for breast cancer based on a woman’s genomic profile and family history versus the current recommendation for annual screenings after age 40. Participating BCBS companies in the WISDOM study will cover the costs of screening and genomic profiling for select members that qualify to take part in the study.
  • Convening the best minds. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina is a steering committee member of the North Carolina Precision Health Collaborative (NCPHC), a partnership of higher education, healthcare industry representatives, state health officials and technology companies. The NCPHC collaborates on research, educating the public, healthcare providers and industry on the use of precision medicine, and finding better ways to help doctors and hospitals use precision medicine to help their patients.

Researchers’ understanding of precision medicine is advancing quickly, and taking part in research studies is a great way to move the science forward.

Highmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Blue Shield of California and Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina are independent licensees of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent, locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies.