Personalization and standardization: Can we have it all?
Article on Expanding precision medicine published in the Journal of Precision Medicine

Jun 24, 2020

Personalization and standardization seem to exist on opposite poles, each with its strengths and weaknesses, each signifying different values. But they are not intrinsically opposing imperatives in healthcare. There is great value in both, and, when applied thoughtfully and strategically, they can co-exist as powerful complementary forces, as is demonstrated in a broad range of industries. Therefore, we looked to other industries—manufacturing, retail, finance, transportation, and hospitality—to learn how they (and their customers) benefit from standardization and personalization, and how lessons learned in those industries can help build healthcare systems that strike a balance between the two.

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“Digitalization is the key to enable and operationalize both standardization and personalization.”

Can we have validated, standardized approaches to medicine that still allow creation of a tailored treatment plan that respects the physical, mental, social, and cultural particularities of every individual patient? A more personalized approach, enabled by digitalization, can deliver meaningful improvements in clinical and non-clinical outcomes while leveraging the efficiency and predictability of standardized processes and clinical pathways within a flexible framework.

Mass customization—the digitally enabled fusion of personalization and standardization—is the key to expanding the reach of precision medicine and its benefits: Precise diagnosis, reduction in unwarranted variations, personalized treatment, and advanced therapy outcomes - to every patient. Medicine should be striving for “mass customization,” a way of thinking that moves beyond the polarizing duality of standardization vs personalization. The concept is a useful one for healthcare, as it balances the benefits of standardization with the benefits of personalization in order to deliver predictable, high-value outcomes that are a good fit for the individual patient’s health and wellness goals.

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