The Costs of Imprecision

When health care providers don't have enough information to make tailored recommendations, the costs of care can mount.

The All of Us Research Program is part of the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI). The aim of precision medicine is to find ways to make health care more tailored to each person based on their individual differences. By enrolling one million or more people in this research program, we hope to gather enough information to see health patterns that wouldn't be visible on a smaller scale. Results from this research may lead to better ways to prevent and treat different health conditions in the future.

For Patients

  • Patients may not be served well by treatments designed for the “average” patient, not them specifically.
  • Trial and error treatment means many visits to the doctor to determine which medication works and how much to give for how long. This can be a heavy burden for patients to bear.
  • Patients may not have access to or make use of their own health information they could use to monitor and improve their quality of life.

For Providers

  • It can be difficult to coordinate care with a patient’s general practitioner or among specialists, leading to situations where medications are not prescribed efficiently, or in tandem with other providers.
  • Similarly, different caregivers may collect separate medical records, with no way to access a patient’s information centrally.
  • Small studies may give a provider hints about a possible treatment, but not the confidence to recommend it.
  • Providers’ time is limited. Even available information may not be easy to find or gather. Or they might not have the time to analyze results in a way that will help an individual patient.
  • As a result, well-meaning providers must often resort to making their best guess.

For Researchers

  • Researchers spend a lot of time creating new databases, over and over, for every new study. By having a central database, research can be much more efficient and less costly.
  • As researchers generate more and more data, how to store, standardize, and integrate these resources becomes a bigger concern.
  • Researchers often must overcome a lack of information about available data resources or the money to find and use them.
  • A single lab’s resources may not be sufficient to find enough people to test a treatment or help answer an important research question.
Last Reviewed: July 16, 2021