Precision Health Perspectives | UCI News

In February, UCI launched the Institute for Precision Health, a campus-wide interdisciplinary enterprise that merges UCI’s capabilities in health sciences, engineering, machine learning, artificial intelligence, clinical genomics and data science. The goal is to identify, create and implement the most effective health and wellness strategy for each person and, in doing so, address the related challenges of health equity and high cost care.

IPH will bring a multifaceted, integrated approach to what many are calling the next big thing in healthcare. The institute is an ecosystem of interdisciplinary collaboration.

In addition to serving as Co-Director and Medical Director of the Institute for Precision Health, Dr. Alpesh N. Amin, Professor and Chair of Medicine, founded and developed UCI Health’s innovative hospital program. Hospitalists are physicians who primarily focus on caring for inpatients and running efficient, high-quality hospitals.

Amin says he relishes every opportunity to use his combined medical and MBA education, and his role at the Institute for Precision Health is a real dream come true. “I have had many opportunities to help improve the quality and safety of patient care at UCI, but IPH is truly next level. This will allow us to use health data as I have always believed it should be used: to provide the best care and the best chance of being healthy,” he says.

Amin has been recognized as one of “America’s Top Physicians” by the Consumers’ Research Council of America, and has published hundreds of articles in academic journals. Here he shares why he is passionate about being on the ground floor of IPH.

You have had a long career as a physician, hospitalist, researcher and teacher. What intrigues you about IPH?

I am very interested in this opportunity to use data to create value. I would love to see us able to develop health technologies like the automotive industry has. If I’m sitting in an advanced car like a Tesla, and I want to get from point A to point B, it gives me directions. If something distracts me while driving, I hear an alarm to get my attention and avoid an accident. And if I’m on my way and 15 miles ahead, an accident happens, it redirects me. So basically that guides my journey. Precision Health also offers the ability to guide patients through their health journeys. And this potential interests me a lot.

I know that data will impact patient care and health care delivery, it will impact outcomes, and it will have a significant impact on population health and individual health. That’s what I want.

Do these changes seem imminent?

To stay with the transport metaphor, I would say that we are still building the plane. When my mother was a small child growing up mostly in India, she and her parents moved to Africa for a bit. The only way to get to Africa was by boat, and that took weeks. Of course, today you can fly from India to Africa in a matter of hours.

For precision health purposes, we have the data and we know where our Africa is, that is, where we want to go. And we know we can fly there, it’s possible. But we still have to build the right plane. And then we have to keep refining the plane to make the experience and the results better and better.

My father is a structural engineer. He designs skyscrapers. More than 60 or 70 years ago, there was only one hope of being able to build a skyscraper of more than 100 floors. There was definitely interest because land was getting more and more expensive, and there wasn’t that much. So people knew they had to go up, but it hadn’t been done. We now have many skyscrapers over 100 stories high. I guess what I mean is that we tend to innovate when we need to, when the will is there. I think the question is: Are we motivated to create a world where health data is used as it should be – for the benefit of every person and every community?

You have a constant appreciation of the data. Is it correct?

Yes! Twenty years ago, when I started my career, I wrote down a list of five or six goals or at least things that I wanted to do with my professional life that I thought would have an impact. I still have that piece of paper, actually. One of my goals: I will be a data-driven physician.

I knew that I would have 30, 40 or even 50 years of medical career. I wanted to think about what I could do to have an impact. My thought process was, “Well, I’m not going to be a professional athlete. What can I do to really make a difference? »

Was a career as a professional athlete a serious possibility?

Yes, there was a time when I could have had a career in baseball. I had coaches and others who told me I could do it. I decided not to play sports, but rather to go the way of the doctor. I kind of applied an athletic mindset to it all, though. I intended to become a doctor, but I knew I needed goals and had to be passionate about my career. I thought if I was going to spend more than 30-40 years doing something, why wouldn’t I have an impact? Anyway, that’s how I came up with the list and focused on the idea of ​​being data-driven.

Of course, data is at the heart of precision medicine.

He is. But, you know, data is at the heart of almost anything successful. If I develop a new program, there must be financial viability. I need data to prove it. When I do research, there is obviously data on this. When I treat patients, I want to provide the highest quality health care and the best outcomes. I need data to define my notion of quality. I think we all know now that data is essential. It’s just that with precision medicine, we’ll be able to do more with data, and that will eventually lead to better care and more medical breakthroughs. My job is to create resources that will allow us to innovate more in health and patient care, and ultimately translate that knowledge and approach forward. That’s what really inspires me.

What are you expecting or hoping for in the next few years? Do you think it’s going to move quickly or do you think we’ll see slow, incremental improvements?

It’s all up to us! It’s part resources, part people, part culture, part vision, part commitment. How fast we move forward will depend on all of this!

But here we stand at the beginning, and I think we’re the lucky ones who can say, we started it, we built it. Whoever is here upstream is lucky enough to be able to do the innovation part of the project. We are going to build the structure and the first partnerships, which is quite amazing. There will always be the next phase, which is an additional innovation, or the next person or group that comes in, but I’ll be happy to say that I was there at the beginning and put in the effort to create IPH .

In a way, you’re a bit like your father, building skyscrapers…

I didn’t think of it that way before, but somehow. IPH is a kind of skyscraper at the UCI. It will reach epic heights – metaphorically! I have an MD and an MBA, so what I really enjoy is thinking in terms of medicine and creating sustainable innovation, meaning scalable, purpose-driven businesses. Whenever I can bring these worlds together, I’m thrilled. And if they are “skyscrapers”, that’s great too.

Is the objective essential here?

Absolutely. Everyone who works with IPH sees the goal as curing patients – not just publishing articles or anything like that. Nothing against academic papers – I have something like 250 papers I’ve published – but that’s just not the point with this. We may publish articles, but above all we want to do things that have an impact. And by that, I mean better health in people. There is extremely tangible value with Precision Health and HPI. I think that’s cool. And it’s a good thing to be able to expand on that and see where it leads.

If you would like to learn more about supporting this or other UCI activities, please visit the Brilliant Future website at https://brilliantfuture.uci.edu. Launched publicly on October 4, 2019, the Brilliant Future campaign aims to raise awareness and support for the UCI. By engaging 75,000 alumni and raising $2 billion in philanthropic investments, UCI seeks to reach new heights of excellence in student success, health and wellness, research and more . UCI Health Affairs plays an essential role in the success of the campaign. Learn more by visiting https://brilliantfuture.uci.edu/uci-health-affairs/.

About the UCI Institute for Precision Health: Founded in February 2022, the Institute for Precision Health (IPH) is a multifaceted, integrated, collaborative ecosystem that maximizes the collective knowledge of patient datasets and the power of computational algorithms, predictive modeling and AI. IPH combines UCI’s powerful capabilities in health sciences, engineering, machine learning, artificial intelligence, clinical genomics and data science to deliver the most effective health and wellness strategy for every individual and, in doing so, confronts the related challenges of health equity and the high cost of care. IPH is part of UCI Health Affairs and is co-led by Tom Andriola, Vice-Chancellor for Information, Technology and Data, and Leslie Thompson, Donald Bren Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior and Neurobiology and Behavior. The IPH includes seven domains: SMART (statistics, machine learning and artificial intelligence), A2IR (applied research on artificial intelligence), A3 (applied analysis and artificial intelligence), Precision Omics (promotes the translation of the results of genomic research , proteomics and metabolomics in clinical applications), Collaboratory for Health & Wellness (provides the ecosystem that fosters collaboration across disciplines through the integration of health-related data sources), Deployable Equity (involves community stakeholders and health equity groups to create solutions that close the gap in disparities in the health and well-being of underserved and at-risk populations.) and Education and Training (brings data-centric education to students and healthcare professionals so they can practice at the peak of their licenses).

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