Technology, Personalized Medicine, And Autism

Technology, Personalized Medicine, And Autism

Imagine walking into your doctor’s office and being greeted not by people who invite you to wait, but by a scanner ready to gather information about your heart, kidney, lung and liver function. Scanning your body for a near-complete diagnostic work-up, the scanner forwards your results to a giant screen in the exam room where your doctor awaits — masked and gloved, of course — to discuss the results and create a personalized care plan.

This practice was already being implemented pre-Covid at doctors’ offices like Forward, a San Francisco-based company that combines cutting-edge technology with doctor-patient partnerships for clinical solutions personalized to the individual rather than the one-size-fits-all approach that dominates today’s clinical approach.

Humalogy = Humanity + Technology

The intersection of technology and humanity is creating new pathways for personalized, or “precision” care heretofore unattainable. We have already seen how genetic testing has revolutionized screenings for cancers and other conditions that have a hereditary component.

This is not a big leap. Hip replacement surgery involves the implantation of titanium ball joints in humans for improved quality of life. Pacemakers and left ventricular assist devices (LVAD) implanted in desperately ill heart patients can extend lives for years, even decades. And cochlear implants allow deaf people to hear. The march of progress suggests the pace of implanting non-human body parts will accelerate.

The Need to Proceed with Caution

Klososky predicts an accelerated pace of humalogy will lead to ethical dilemmas that must be addressed. “It seems so far away and difficult to get our hands around an augmented human being – a digital centaur as it were. Because I believe this is closer than most people think, and that it will be such a crossroads for humanity, I suggest we give a lot of thought to tomorrow’s implications today,” he said.

Klososky, founder of  Future Point of View, sketches out optimum blends of humanity and technology. For a dad to play catch with his son, the optimum mix is all human. For an Internet search, an algorithm does all the work in hundredths of a second without human involvement. In many cases, a balanced approach that blends humanity and technology will serve humans best. We have seen this play out in the rush to telemedicine during the Covid pandemic.

This could be heady stuff for those of us in the autism community. If you’re like me, your head is swimming with ideas about how this could work for autism – and how it could go terribly wrong. We need to be especially careful not to attempt to “fix” those with autism. It’s one thing to use technology to diagnose and treat earlier and better, and to allay some of the effects of autism that interfere with the ability of individuals to function. It’s quite another to fundamentally change who someone is.

The Promise of More Precise Care

As the implantation of technology creates more diversity in the biology of humans, the implication for treatment of all conditions, including autism, is increased individualization of treatment. More than ever, patient health history, behaviors, environments and genetic variations will have to be considered when making clinical decisions.

During the Obama Administration, the White House launched the Precision Medicine Initiative with this in mind. The White House committed $215 million to “pioneer a new model of patient-powered research that promises to accelerate biomedical discoveries and provide clinicians with new tools, knowledge, and therapies to select which treatments will work best for which patients.”

Imagine for a moment the impact such tactics could have on the diagnosis and treatment of various cancers. Presently, most recommendations are based on averages and customized only to the extent of broad markers like age, sex and previous cancer history. Precision medicine could, and is starting to, replace that with a diagnosis and treatment regimen bespoken to the specific physiological characteristics of each individual. Colonoscopies, for example, are recommended based on age and family history. Treatment protocols for colon cancer are determined almost entirely by the extent of the cancer. Precision medicine could help improve assessment of risk for each individual and help craft a personalized treatment plan attuned to each patient’s unique physiology.

The benefits of personalized care can be extrapolated to every kind of condition and body system. The promise of precision medicine is more and better treatments tailored to an individual’s specific conditions, with the promise of improved efficacy and fewer side effects. In a nascent field like autism, where we are just beginning to understand etiology and treatment, the positive impact on outcomes could be significant.

Autism Matters and ABA Insights from a Senior Executive, Entrepreneur, and Author

LISTEN TO THE EPISODE

Dr. Ronit Molko is the author of Autism Matters: Empowering Investors, Providers, And The Autism Community To Advance Autism Services

Jarbly University · Episode #14 With Dr. Molko (1)

 

Summary: Do you want to take part in a nationwide movement towards improving long-term outcomes for people with autism and behavioral disorder’s. Join Dr. Ronit Molko, a licensed clinical psychologist and cofounder of one of the largest autism service providers in the nation, who will share some of her 3image of a boy sitting and looking up, smiling around puzzle pieces0 years of experience to innovate the current model of service delivery, forge new programs and create opportunities that will better equip individuals on the spectrum with the skills they need to build quality, self-determined, independent lives.

What You Will Learn in this Interview:

1:49 – Background on Autism and how individuals and caretakers can help those with autism live a fulfilling life

13:56 – Studying and looking to establish purpose and path forward to have a career path like Dr. Molko (supervising, clinical psychology, behavioral analysis, investing)

19:28 – Current support systems that are in place and preparations to handle and support with proper treatments during Coronavirus.

24:08 – Core traits and characteristics that have led to entrepreneurship and investment leadership, advancing behavioral healthcare across verticals.  (Environment for high quality intervention)

30:06 – Keen insights on evolving relationship between technologies and the broader population who have disabilities and diseases (IoT, apps, connected devices)

36:34 – Trend to reduce overall healthcare costs (advice to help families dealing with autism diagnosis)

41:00 – Personal thoughts on Senior Care, especially in assisted living communities which are in full focus right now and desperately need an overhaul

Dr. Ronit Molko Executive Profile

Dr. Ronit Molko is a dynamic senior executive and entrepreneur recognized for combining strategic vision and technical expertise to drive business initiatives. In 2001, Dr. Molko co founded Autism Spectrum Therapies Inc. (AST), which grew into a highly respected, multi-state provider of services for individuals on the autism spectrum. In 2014, she sold her company to Learn It Systems, a private equity backed strategic buyer, and then she served as President of Autism Services for the combined family of companies until early 2016.

Today, as CEO and Principal of Empowering Synergy, Dr. Molko conducts due diligence for investors. She also consults as an expert in the field of service delivery for healthcare, with a special focus on behavioral healthcare and companies that provide services to families affected by autism and developmental disabilities.

In 2018, she released her latest work, “Autism Matters: Empowering Investors, Providers and the Autism Community to Advance Autism Services,” published by ForbesBooks.

Dr. Molko is currently a board member of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Autism Society of America and the Galt Foundation, which places individuals with disabilities in the workforce. She has been actively involved in many healthcare-based committees and organizations throughout her career and has received multiple awards in recognition of her business prowess and leadership abilities. She is a licensed clinical psychologist in California and Washington states, and a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst.

VIEW DR. RONIT MOLKO’S LINKEDIN PROFILE

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