KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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As ‘Precision Medicine’ Evolves, Vagueness And Hype Still Surround Concept

Doctors meet in Philadelphia to discuss the future of precision cancer medicine. Meanwhile, Obama administration policy developments on patient access to medical records, gun control steps and NIH's cancer database all make headlines.

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Promise Of Precision
When President Obama announced his "precision medicine" initiative a year ago, the White House spotlighted Emily Whitehead as an example of patients who have already benefited from an approach most people have never heard of. The central Pennsylvania girl, now 10, was near death in 2012 when researchers at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia engineered her own immune system's T cells to recognize and attack her leukemia cells. Though Emily's therapy was custom made, it didn't take into account individual differences in her genetic makeup, lifestyle, or environment - which is how the president's initiative and the National Institutes of Health define precision medicine. (McCullough, 1/17)

The New York Times: New Guidelines Nudge Doctors To Give Patients Access To Medical Records
The Obama administration is tearing down barriers that make it difficult for patients to get access to their own medical records, telling doctors and hospitals that in most cases they must provide copies of these records within 30 days of receiving a request. ... In new guidelines, issued this month, the administration says doctors and hospitals cannot require patients to state a reason for requesting their records, and cannot deny access out of a general concern that patients might be upset by the information. (Pear, 1/16)

The Washington Post: NIH’s Big Cancer Database Coming Soon
Most experts believe that one important element of Vice President Biden's cancer "moonshot" has to be a major database that researchers and clinicians can access to help them develop new therapies or treat patients. Both the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Association for Cancer Research have launched such projects, as have some big academic cancer centers. And Thursday, during a teleconference with reporters to discuss President Obama's State of the Union call for a stepped-up war on cancer, the National Cancer Institute's acting director, Douglas R. Lowy, stressed that his agency is nearing completion on an effort of its own. (Bernstein, 1/14)

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