Finally, some good news on health care. Patrick Balthrop, president and CEO of Luminex Corporation, spoke at Rob Adam’s entrepreneurship class about the convergence of health care and technology. Luminex's strategy for product development and differentiation is that a new product must improve health care outcome and reduce costs. Balthrop said that while we have a long way to go to improve healthcare delivery, we’ve made considerable progress over the years – mostly driven by investments in R&D. We’re now at a pivotal moment where we can make significant changes to society and also solve some problems with public healthcare policies by investing in the right healthcare technology.
A major problem with our current healthcare system, said Balthrop, is that it is procedure-based. A healthcare professional gets paid for procedures completed. They have financial incentives to provide a service or procedure. These incentives sometimes conflict with doing what’s right for the patient, which may be doing nothing.
Balthrop gave a brief review of health care innovation, from Charles Darwin through the modern era’s human genome and proteome DNA mapping projects. Our system currently assigns the same prescription for the same diagnosis, no matter the patient. But proteome mapping research shows that humans metabolize medicine differently, making medicine that is effective for one patient perhaps toxic or ineffective for another.
Balthrop believes the concept of personalized medicine, based on DNA mapping, is the future. There are more than 15,000 proteins that metabolize medicine and we only understand about 4,000 of them now. As we learn more, the efficacy of medicine based on targeted DNA profiles will increase. Balthrop said consumers will become familiar and comfortable with DNA mapping, given passage of legislation 18 months ago that prohibits insurance companies and employers from discriminating based on genetic information.
Luminex Corporation is an Austin-based company that manufactures and markets innovative biological testing technologies with applications throughout the life science and diagnostic industries. In January 2009, Luminex was named as one of Forbes' top 25 fastest growing technology companies.