The Thai government has launched the Thailand Center of Excellence for Life Sciences Pharmacogenomics Project, in collaboration with Oracle, to gather and unify health records electronically.
The project involves the development of a large-scale database of unified electronic health records and is intended to provide safer and more effective medications as well as reduced health care costs.
Pharmacogenomics defines how a person’s genetics affects his or her body’s response to medications. It is the basis for individualized medicine, through which drugs are tailored and applied to cater to a person’s personal genetic makeup.
Pharmacogenomics could be a leap forward for health care. At the clinical trial level, it involves information sharing, investigator and patient management, and terminology translation.
At the health care level, it involves biomedical surveillance, determining clinical pathways for standardized patient care and gathering patient and physician information into a centralized database.
Keeping electronic health records is also an effective monitoring tool to curb outbreaks of emerging diseases such as SARS and avian influenza, more popularly known as bird flu.
These outbreaks can have a devastating effect on the economy and the livelihood of Thais. The availability of a tool for fighting the spread of such diseases in a timely manner could help to control outbreaks, especially at a national level.
The first step in the project involves developing a nationwide system to capture clinical and genetic patient information that can be used to define a correlation to a benchmark of information about the general population. This will allow for the classification of patients by genostrata.
“This ground-breaking initiative will have far-reaching impact on Thailand’s health care system,” said Mr. Suvit Khunkitti, the Minister of Information and Communication Technology.
“It’s clear that economies and nations that can ride the wave of life sciences and biomedical innovation will grow and prosper,” he said, “while those that fall behind could miss out on the world’s next industrial revolution and experience a decline in growth rates, incomes and power.”