Your personal health: Free means education:
One more post today. Russ Altman talks about how the cost of genotyping is asymptoting to free
(eerie parallels to Chris Anderson’s Free). The post comes on the heels of the launch of Complete Genomics and that they will enable a $5000 genome in 2010.
But that’s not the part that I want to talk about. It’s another part of the post
We must work to educate every day people about how to interpret their genome and how to use the information beneficially. Trying to protect them in a paternalistic manner is going to fail, I fear–because it will be too easy to get the information cheaply. So solutions that rely on government regulations or mandatory insertion of a physician in the process of ordering genetic sequencing (don’t get me wrong, I love physicians–I am one) are not going to work.
Given past writings on this subject, no surprise, I agree wholeheartedly. We need to educate, and educate fast.
There are many things that will be changed when sequencing a genome becomes almost as fast in reality as it is on CSI. Without proper education about this, people will be open to really bad science.
The best approach may not be the government or physicians, who have no stake in really explaining things. Perhaps there will be trusted genome advocates whose job is to carefully explain to someone what their genome really means, in a way that truly educates them. And provide quarterly updates of new information for them.