The days of one-size-fits-all, scattershot approaches to healthcare may be on the wane. A National Institutes of Health program,the Allof Us Research Program, aims to customize patient care to afine degree that would both improve patient health and reduce patientcare costs by creating a more-efficient healthdelivery system.

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All of Us is essentially an umbrella program to fund and developthe Precision Medicine Initiative, described by NIH as “arevolutionary approach for disease prevention and treatment thattakes into account individual differences in lifestyle, environmentand biology.” PMI was created last year with a $130 millionallocation to NIH to build a massive research participant group.The goal: using a research cohort of 1 million U.S. patients, drilldown on the effects of genetics, lifestyle and environment onhealth and — by extrapolation — medical care.

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The ambitious undertaking, which has a 10-year timeline, got ahuge boost when the first three providers of research participantswere recently awarded grants by NIH. The groups — dubbed theSouthern All of Us Network, the Southeast Enrollment Center, andAll of Us, Wisconsin — received a collective $13.8 million toenroll members of their provider groups in the national program.Hospitals, universities and research groups comprise the bulk ofthe organizations that will be solicited for participants.

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“These awardees will extend the geographic coverage of theprogram and strengthen its reach within underserved communities,including lower-income, Hispanic and Latino, African American,American Indian and rural communities,” NIH said in a release.

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It’s essential for the success of All of Us that the study groupto reflect the diversity of the general U.S. population, says Allof Us director Eric Dishman.

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“Expanding our national network of health care providerorganizations enhances our ability to reach communitiestraditionally underrepresented in medical research,” Dishman says.“Working with participants across the country, we hope tocontribute to medical breakthroughs that may lead to more tailoreddisease prevention and treatment solutions in the future.”

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As scientists and healthcare professionals have learned moreabout the role genetics, lifestyle and environment play in personalhealth, it has become increasingly clear that the current healthdelivery system is aimed at a norm that may not actually exist.

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PMI is emerging at a time when healthcare organizations arebecoming sufficiently wired, through telemedicine, personaltracking devices and other technological advances, to begin tocreate patient profiles far more detailed and useful than everbefore. Caregivers can not only stay in constant contact withpatients, but can analyze their health characteristics in real timeto accumulate a wealth of patient information. Now, NIH wants toconnect the information to customized care — thus greatly reducingthe cost of care by eliminating unnecessary treatment based on alack of patient knowledge.

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A small invitation-only pilot program of some 2,500 patients isalready underway to help guide NIH’s direction as the numbers grow.NIH plans to offer participation next year to any U.S. individual.But the addition of groups like All of Us, Wisconsin and theSouthern All of Us Network point to NIH’s strategy of enlistinglarge groups with thousands of potential members to hit theone-million-participant target.

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