Precision Medicine

Precision medicine is an approach to medicine that uses information about your genes, environment and lifestyle to guide decisions. Instead of using a “one-size-fits-all” approach, precision medicine (or personalized medicine) allows healthcare providers to predict which prevention strategies and treatments will work with which groups of people.

What is precision medicine?

Precision medicine is an innovative medical approach that uses information about your genes, environment and lifestyle to guide healthcare decisions. This type of medicine will allow scientists and healthcare providers to more accurately predict which prevention strategies and treatments will work with which groups of people. Another name for precision medicine is personalized medicine.

Precision medicine differs from the one-size-fits-all approach to medicine, in which researchers and providers develop healthcare management strategies for the average person. The one-size-fits-all approach gives less consideration to the differences between people. It works well for some people and some conditions, but not for others.

What are some of the benefits of precision medicine?

Precision medicine may improve many aspects of your health and healthcare. Benefits include:

1. The ability for your healthcare provider to use your genetic information as part of routine medical care.

2. A better understanding of why diseases occur.

3. The capability to predict which treatments will work best for you.

4. An improved approach to preventing, diagnosing and treating disease.

5. Better incorporation of electronic health records (EHRs), which will allow your providers to access your medical data more easily.


Pharmacogenomics is the study of how your DNA affects your response to particular drugs. This field combines pharmacology (the study of drugs) and genomics (the study of genes) to develop safe, effective medications and doses that are tailored to variations in your specific genes.

The goal of precision medicine in pharmacogenomics is to shift away from one-size-fits-all drugs and doses. Researchers now know that many factors influence how your body reacts to different drugs. It’s not just your age, sex and body size. Precision medicine wants to focus on getting you the right drug and the right dose for your body.

Rare diseases

Researchers estimate rare genetic conditions affect 25 million to 30 million Americans. The NIH’s Undiagnosed Disease Program has studied hundreds of the most puzzling medical cases. Through their research, they’ve been able to identify and diagnose many of these cases.

The NIH has expanded its program into a network of sites across the country to study even more. It’s collaborated with several partners to speed up the development of effective treatments for these rare diseases.

What’s the difference between precision medicine and personalized medicine?

According to the U.S. National Research Council, “personalized medicine” is an older term that means the same thing as “precision medicine.”

However, the Council was concerned that people would think “personalized” meant that each person would have their own treatment. With precision medicine, the focus isn’t necessarily on you as an individual but rather on identifying which approaches will be most effective for which groups of people. Now, “precision medicine” is the more common and preferred term, but people still use the two interchangeably.