Posted on August 07, 2016

The World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) has hosted a webinar discussing methods to improve the quality of healthcare by using pharmacogenetics, a strategy aimed at ensuring the correct use of drugs for each patient to avoid negative side-effects.

The webinar on Pharmacogenetics and Patient Safety took place on 2nd August, as part of the ‘Safer Care Accelerator’ series by the Leading Health Systems Network (LHSN). LHSN is an initiative of WISH that brings together healthcare leaders and industry experts to identify and discuss areas of improvement in healthcare systems. The webinar was led by Dr Deepak Voora, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine, and Dr Geoffrey Ginsburg, Director of the Center for Applied Genomics and Precision Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine.

The WISH webinar highlighted the significant clinical and economic impact of adverse drug reactions as participants outlined examples of drugs that cause such reactions and ways to mitigate them. The speakers also offered recommendations on improving policy through the administration of the right drug that is tailored to a patient’s genetic makeup. Dr Ginsburg said: “Commonly used medications for heart disease, cancer, seizures and many others, have side-effects that are a result of genetic variation that affects the metabolism of these drugs in some people.  If genetic testing was done at the time of drug prescribing, many adverse events might have been avoided.”

Ms Didi Thompson, Policy Fellow at Imperial College’s Centre for Health Policy and WISH Forum Fellow, said: “People often think of patient safety in relation to surgical outcomes or hospital-acquired infections.  However, patients receive the majority of care outside of the hospital.  With an ageing population, and patients often taking four or five medications concurrently, adverse drug reactions are a significant patient safety issue. The field of pharmacogenetics can provide us with tools to deliver safer, more effective care and reduce the likelihood of adverse drug reactions."

This webinar emphasised the extent of positive impact that effective implementation of pharmacogenetics will have on a global level. “Adverse drug reactions are a global concern for patient safety. They are costly and can be prevented. Pharmacogenetics is a strategy that aims to provide the right dose of the right drug to the right individual and can contribute to avoiding drug toxicity and improvement of safety and quality of health care,” added Dr Voora.

Since its establishment in 2009, LHSN has collaborated with 25 health systems from more than 12 countries to exchange knowledge among experts and discuss ways of making significant improvements in the existing healthcare policies. LHSN is based at Imperial College in London and has partnered with WISH to produce a positive change through monthly webinars that aim for healthier populations all over the world. Hamad Medical Corporation and Sidra Medical and Research Center in Qatar are part of the 18 organisations that have joined the effort.

WISH, a global initiative of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), launched the LHSN Safer Care Accelerator Program to share best practice and inspire health systems worldwide to provide safer care for patients. The programme brings together a global network of healthcare organisations to exchange insights, experiences, and data on the topic of patient safety, culminating in the publication of a global report. The 2016 WISH Summit will take place 29th – 30th November in Doha, Qatar.