The American Medical Association adopted a new policy at its annual meeting last week to "support" personalized medicine as a means to improve the care of patients.
Acknowledging that a person's clinical, genetic, and environmental information impact the way he or she responds to treatments, the AMA's policy now urges healthcare providers to educate themselves in the discipline.
"In order to maximize the benefit of [personalized medicine], the healthcare workforce needs ongoing education about the use of genetic technologies in clinical care," the AMA said in a statement.
The lack of physician education in genomic medicine is often cited as a major barrier to the adoption of personalized medicine.
In a recently released draft report on how to enhance genetic education for doctors, the HHS Secretary's Advisory Committee on Genetics, Health, and Society recommended that the federal government convene a workshop to identify innovative education and training approaches to integrate genetics and genomics into clinical care.
In the report, the SACGHS task force reviewed educational gaps with regard to genetics and found that institutions that train healthcare professionals do not have sufficient faculty with genetic training to teach basic genetics or its applications to patient care, and that even when students receive genetics instruction as part of their basic science training their clinical training often does not incorporate genetic perspectives.
Overall, the task force found that "genetics instruction is poorly integrated into all relevant courses."
In 2007, the AMA and the US Food and Drug Administration developed and launched an online educational course to improve physicians' basic knowledge of pharmacogenomics. The course was developed with an educational grant from Roche (PGx Reporter 06/20/07).
"Personalized medicine is an extension of traditional approaches in healthcare, further allowing physicians to refine diagnosis, treatment, and prevention," AMA Board Member Peter Carmel said in a statement. "The AMA will inform physicians about emerging personalized medicine issues and develop educational resources and point-of-care tools to assist physicians in implementing personalized medicine."
Furthermore, the AMA policy attests that "adequate oversight and regulation must be implemented, and coverage of clinically useful personalized medicine should be considered by insurers."
The FDA is hosting a public meeting next month to discuss its oversight of laboratory-developed tests, including regulation of direct-to-consumer genomics services (PGx Reporter 06/16/10).